Manor elementary campus abuzz over new beekeeping club

The bees danced around the heads of the curious students, who were covered head to toe in protective suits.

A few kids were hesitant, while others couldn’t wait to interact with the flying insects and get their first taste of honey made on their school grounds.

About two dozen students in first through fifth grade at the new ShadowGlen Elementary in Manor are founding members of the district’s first beekeeping club. Teacher Amanda Lengnick-Hall, who has overseen beekeeping at two other Central Texas schools, brought the idea with her when she took the job in Manor this year. She has worked with secondary students on beekeeping for the past four years, but this is her first time working with elementary students.

Nine schools in Central Texas, including a handful in the Austin school district, have beekeeping programs.

“Beekeeping isn’t very common, especially in schools, so I like that they push themselves, even if they’re scared,” said Lengnick-Hall. “But once they get into the suits and get closer to the bees and they start learning more about them, they start becoming really protective of them. It’s really exciting to see them go from scared … to being advocates and getting an opportunity to try something they probably haven’t thought they wanted to try.”

Three of her former students now are home beekeepers, and another is studying entomology at Texas A&M University.

The ShadowGlen students first studied the bees in an observation hive, which is similar to an aquarium. Lengnick-Hall has been teaching them about pollination and the colony collapse disorder that causes worker bees to abandon the hive, leaving the queen behind.

On a recent sunny afternoon, after five weeks of preparation, the students donned red or white beekeeping suits for the first time to see the hives. They were rewarded: The bees had made honey.

“We got to pet the bees, and I got to have honey!” said Aubrey Roberts, a third-grader, as she gently touched a bee resting on her gloved hand.

The students will bottle the honey and sell it on campus, using the money to support their beekeeping program.

Bee expert Walter Schumacher, of the Central Texas Bee Rescue and American Honey Bee Protection Agency, volunteers with the students, teaching them the do’s and don’ts (including warning the students that swift, exaggerated movements make the bees angry).

“This whole thing is experiential learning where they work with the bees,” Schumacher said. “In the beginning, they were apprehensive. ‘Bees sting you; bees hurt you.’ But now we have more kids wanting to volunteer with the program than not.”

The students who work with the bees must have parental permission.

“I like working with the bees,” said Rafaela Rohdis, a fifth-grader. “It’s interesting, and you learn something. I was never scared of them because I knew we were going to have suits on.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

5 former presidents appear at hurricane relief concert
5 former presidents appear at hurricane relief concert

All five living former Presidents appeared together for the first time since 2013 on Saturday, as they appeared at a benefit concert in Texas to raise money for hurricane relief efforts, CNN reported. Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama attended “Deep From the Heart: The One America Appeal&rdquo...
Community news: LCRA to repaint Mansfield Dam bridge

TRAVIS COUNTY MANSFIELD DAM LCRA to repaint bridge The Lower Colorado River Authority began a months-long project to recoat the bridge at the top of Mansfield Dam. The preventative maintenance will remove corrosion that has developed since the bridge was last recoated in the 1970s and help ensure the bridge remains in top condition. Traffic was rerouted...
Air Force may recall up to 1,000 retired pilots
Air Force may recall up to 1,000 retired pilots

The U.S. Air Force may recall as many as 1,000 retired military pilots to active duty because of an executive order signed Friday by President Donald Trump,  ABC News reported. By law, only 25 retired pilots can be recalled through voluntary programs to serve in any one branch of military service, but Trump’s executive order removes...
Man in custody after SWAT standoff at Southeast Austin apartments
Man in custody after SWAT standoff at Southeast Austin apartments

10:15 p.m. update: Austin police have taken a man into custody after a standoff with SWAT units at a Southeast Austin apartment complex. Police said the man had a weapon but he was arrested without incident and no one was injured. Officers breached the door of the apartment using a robot, police said. Earlier: A SWAT standoff is developing near South...
Man charged after bringing unlicensed gun to IHOP, Austin police say
Man charged after bringing unlicensed gun to IHOP, Austin police say

A man is accused of unlawfully carrying a weapon at an IHOP restaurant at 8801 Interstate 35 South, according to an arrest affidavit. Police received a 911 call Saturday at 3:45 a.m. stating that a man, who authorities identified as 25-year-old Marcus Antonio Dallas Jr., was arguing with people at another table at the restaurant, according to the affidavit...
More Stories