Earlier this week we talked about the resurgence of Hawaii's honey bee population.
Coincidentally, students at Mililani Middle School are learning about bees..and how to protect them.
They've got their own bee hives. Before we get to see the bees we have to put on bulky bee keeping suits. The next thing to do is spray these man-made hives with smoke.
Middle schooler Matthieu Kalua, "You want to smoke them so they think fire. So they don't start swarming and attacking us."
Instead, they run for and EAT their honey which also slows them down.
The goal for these 11-14-year-olds today is just to inspect the hives.
We asked Kira Prescott what she saw. She says, "Well there's lots of capped honey as you can see right here.
Capped Honey? What do you mean?
So this honey is ready to be harvested. It's ready to be eaten. We see lots of brood cells. Brood cells right? Right. They're the bumpy ones. And these are where the babies are right? Larvae? Yes. This is where the larvae is."
Kira Tobita notices something else.
"They're vibrating to tell each other messages like our hive is on fire and then collect as much honey," she says. "Then over here that's bad. It's a tick."
The students pull out these smaller sections of the hive...or frames... one at a time...making note of everything.
Tobita says invasive insects are a big problem.
"Yeah 'cause it, there's this one where it eats the eggs and it deforms their wings and everything else and they slowly die."
She's talking about Varroa Mites which have devastated bee populations around the world.
They had crept into the students' hives before. But they treated them with a natural substance known as hopguard...and now have healthy hives.
By the way...each hive houses 10-15-thousand bees.
We asked Prescott and her partner Evan whether the buzzing and bees bother them.
"Well, he was scared the first time," Prescott says pointing at Evan.
I was a little scared.
I wasn't really that scared. We have protection. And if you get stung, as long as you're not allergic, it's not that bad."
Even if they are safe...you may be asking...what posesses a middle school student to work with bees?
Penelope Kahiapo says, "I wanted to learn more about them because they polenate our flowers. And we wouldn't be alive right now without them.
Mililani Middle School actually owns 2 of these hives and keeps them at a private residence.
This whole idea came from teacher Marshall Sharpe who's been a beekper since he was 12.
He got a special grant from The Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation and set the whole thing up.
"My ultimate goal is for them to become the next generation of bee keepers," says Sharpe. "Anyone can be a bee keeper. Anyone can have a hive in their back yard. And I hope that even if they decide not to become a bee keeper as an adult that they'll have a better appreciation for bees and their role in agriculture and producing food for us."
And we bee-lieve he's got something special here.
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