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Local students get a front seat to beehives, just in time for Earth Day

A student at The Gardner School of Arts and Sciences (KATU News photo)

It was a day students had been waiting for for nearly a year.

Friday, students at The Gardner School of Arts and Sciences gathered to welcome their newest addition, bees.

"[I like bees] because they make our food!" 5-year-old Amelia said.

Betsy Jager-Lee, a teacher at The Gardner School, has been working toward this moment for almost a year after she says the bees chose them.

"Last spring we had a honey bee swarm arrive on our campus up in one of our large fir trees, but we weren’t quite ready for them," Jager-Lee said.

Until they were ready, Brian Lacy, a beekeeper with Urban Bees and Gardens, gathered the hive and cared for the bees. Friday, those same bees came back, transferred to their now permanent hive called an observation hive.

"They will see the queen laying eggs, the court that surrounds them, they will see babies and adults feeding the babies," Lacy said.

Lacy says bees are an essential part of our world, their pollination accounting for 90 percent of our world's food. Getting kids comfortable with them early in life is even more important.

"Very few kids know about bees or have comfort with them, which is tragic considering how dependent we are on the species," Lacy said.

Bringing them back for Earth Day was even more fitting according to Jager-Lee.

"It’s a crucial part of our mission at gardner for our students to have an awareness about their connection not only to our school but to the environment and the world," Jager-Lee said.

Attached to the wall, students will be able to watch the bees' every move, as they go from their hive in the classroom through a tube in the wall to the outside.

"These are baby bees up in here that’s honey, that’s honey and this is open territory where the queen will be in," Lacy said.

And there was no shortage of excited as students settled in with their new classmates.

The observation beehive is apart of a grant The Gardner School received from The Whole Kids Foundation and The Bee Case Project. The two foundations hope to get more than a thousand observation beehives in classrooms across the country. Right now there are only two in schools in the Portland area that have received the beehives.

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