EMSB Urban Beekeeping: Schools Collect their Honey!

This past September held a unique surprise for students returning to classes at seven schools of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB). Travis Hall, Career Development Consultant at EMSB, reports that after installation and a successful series of workshops last year, the beehives set up in the spring were now stacked high with boxes filled with frames of honey.

The schools involved in year one of the EMSB beekeeping project were Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary, FOCUS, John F. Kennedy High School, Laurier Macdonald High School, Royal Vale Elementary and High School, Royal West Academy, and Westmount High School.

Across the island students at these seven schools were involved in the final series of workshops presented by Alvéole’s professional beekeepers, the pinnacle of which was gathering the honey frames from the hives for the extraction workshop.

Extraction workshop

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Alexander McLean, Alvéole’s cofounder and beekeeper, helps students extract honey from the comb.

Alvéole visited each school with a portable hand-operated honey extractor, filters, and jars. The beekeepers began the workshops by explaining to the students the life cycle that the bees and their hive were currently experiencing and then answered the students’ many questions. They also discussed how the extraction process the students would be involved in compared to commercial methods.

 


They uncapped frames, spun the extractor, poured honey through filters, and filled jars.


From raw honeycomb to liquid honey

Afterward, the students were delighted to be able to fully participate in the actual extraction of their honey. They uncapped frames, spun the extractor, poured honey through filters, and filled jars. The students started with raw honeycomb and ended with delicious liquid honey!

Hibernation period

With extraction complete, the schools are now happily enjoying their honey while the bees prepare to hibernate for the winter. Students and bees alike agree that this first year of urban beekeeping was a success at EMSB. The project will continue in the spring when the flowers bloom, and the bees are ready to begin working again.

Royal Vale Principal Nathalie Lacroix-Maillette (centre) and teachers delighted with jars of honey.

Royal Vale Vice Principal Mr. Vincenzo Timpano, Principal Ms. Nathalie Lacroix-Maillette (centre), and Vice-Principal Ms. Nathalie Cheff, delighted with the jars of honey.


Students learn about biology, agriculture, ecology, nutrition, and business.


Knowledge of the World of Work

The process of tending hives and observing bee activity is cross-curricular and enables students to learn about biology, agriculture, ecology, nutrition, and business in a practical hands-on manner. The project also provides an exciting and unique opportunity for schools to support the GOAL philosophy, particularly Knowledge of the World of Work.

By Travis Hall, Career Development Consultant, EMSB

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Alvéole, founded in 2012, specializes in urban beekeeping.

The turnkey service for schools is hands-on and educational for students at every step of the process. There are three workshops for students: Theoretical class on bees and environment, Hive opening and queen discovery, and Interactive honey extraction and tasting on site. Students also experience what it’s like to be an actual beekeeper.

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