Photo courtesy of Mike Finnegan
The Bishop Blanchet High School Bee Club members stand with one of their hives. The Honeybee Conservancy sent one hive as part of a grant.
Photo courtesy of Mike Finnegan The Bishop Blanchet High School Bee Club members stand with one of their hives. The Honeybee Conservancy sent one hive as part of a grant.

Bishop Blanchet High School was the recipient of a most buzz-worthy package recently – bees.

Two science teachers at the high school, Mike Finnegan and Monica Armstrong, set out to start a Bee Club at the school this year, and it already boasts six “bee suites” and 21 student members.

The club was helped along by a generous nonprofit grant, courtesy of The Honeybee Conservancy, a New York-based organization which “provides underserved communities with bees, bee homes, supplies, and educational support to advance bee conservation and fight hunger by empowering communities to establish sustainable agricultural resources within their neighborhoods.”

Finnegan had a goal to start a bee club at the school as Armstrong has been beekeeping for four years and wanted to share her passion.

“So I just started to search it see if there were any grants that could make this possible,” he said. “I came across the honeybee conservancy program and applied.”

The conservancy selected 80 community organizations from across the United States to benefit from their successful Sponsor-A-Hive program. The Good Cheer Food Bank in Langley, Washington also won the grant.

Bees are essential for the pollination of a huge amount of the food Americans eat.

Guillermo Fernandez, Director of The Honeybee Conservancy echoed this.

“One in three bites of food we eat depends entirely on bees—and they are dying out,” he said. “Bees inhabit the juncture where sustainability, science, and the local food movement intersect.”

Finnegan and Armstrong said they immediately saw the science potential of students interacting with hives and learning how social animals exist.

“We take turns in doing hive inspections,” he said. “As we do this we teach the students about the honey bee and the hive community.”

The Sponsor-A-Hive Program has worked to combat the alarming decline of honeybee populations by creating 165 bee sanctuaries since its inception in 2015, introducing millions of pollinators to U.S. communities. Organizations such as the University of Montana, New Jersey’s Greater Newark Conservatory, and Washington’s Center for Self Reliance have received not only bees, beekeeping equipment, curriculum and resources, but also guidance from Honeybee Conservancy experts whose ongoing support helps organizations place and sustain bee homes to ensure their long-term success.

The 2018 Sponsor-A-Hive Program participants represent a wide variety of nonprofit community organizations, including schools, Native American tribes, nature centers, neighborhood parks, food banks, museums, and more. The organizations were selected from a pool of 377 applicants. Applications for the 2019 program will be accepted beginning in Fall 2018.