RAVENNA, Mich. — A project developed by a high school teacher and several students passionate about honey bees has taken off, several months after the school secured a $100K federal grant.
FOX 17 first reported back in December 2020 that the school had been selected to receive a $100,000 rural tech grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Ravenna was one of just five schools across the United States selected for the grant.
Now seven months later, agri-science teacher Melanie Block, several students, and a recently graduated former student have three fully functioning hives, which will continue to expand.
“Really this is just something that students have taken charge of... There's going to be student leaders, student workers. It's all going to be school based,” said recent graduate Kaia Cooper.
Initially, the group had intended to purchase a pre-constructed, automated beehive with the grant money, but they found that option too large for their starting point.
Teacher Melanie Block told FOX 17 Tuesday, “That's one of the things that we're trying to deal with is helping smaller beekeepers get involved in the industry, and having the access to the technology that the larger beekeepers do.”
They have a device called a Hive Genie that they ordered to supplement some of the technology they are hoping to utilize in the hives.
“You can tell how much honey is being formed inside of... each hive... It can do the temperature and humidity," Block said.
"One of the things that we've really had a hard time finding is a camera that won't get all gummed up by the bees because they like to cover everything they can in honeycomb.”
On Tuesday a group of students was harvesting honey for the first time.
“When bees go into their hive, they have two options. They are either nurse bees or worker bees, if they're going to be doing anything... worker bees are going to be the ones that are going out there, getting the pollen; they're collecting everything, the nectar,” Cooper explained.
“Nurse bees are a little bit different... they don't really leave the hive. Their job is to protect the brood, make sure that all of the eggs get to larvae, the larvae get to adulthood, so then those bees can go and be worker bees and help the hive.”
All of those types of working bees are females. The only male honey bees are called drones.
"And they're basically freeloaders," Cooper said. "They just sit around, and they are there to reproduce with the queen."
The grant money the school received in December lasts for two years. After that point, the school has the chance to win an additional $100,000 grant.
You will soon be able to purchase jars of the honey produced at Ravenna High School.
You can visit the RHS Rural Tech Grant site to buy a jar and to find out more info about the program.