Apiary Program for Students

Face Time: Teachers Maggie Corlett and Lacey Todd — buzzing with excitement about beekeeping

‘It will be an apiary program for students, built by students!’


Maggie Corlett and Lacey Todd stand behind an observation hive full of honeybees donated by Al Borzelli of Happy Hive Farm in Sumner. This is the same hive and bees that the Western Maine Beekeeper’s Association had on display at the Farmington Fair. Submitted photo

Teachers Maggie Corlett and Lacey Todd are spearheading beekeeping classes for students at Meroby Elementary School and Mountain Valley Middle School, both in Mexico, and planning for an apiary to be built on school grounds this spring. The schools received a $100,000 grant for the bee project from the Maine Department of Education and the plan is to eventually include all schools in the RSU 10 district from the Mountain Valley region in the beekeeping project.

How will beekeeping and taking care of an apiary be helpful to students? What will beekeeping teach students?

Our student population struggles with a high incidence of trauma and ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). We see students struggle with chronic absenteeism, negative behaviors, and poor mental health. Beekeeping has been shown to improve well-being after traumatic events. We have observed that outdoor learning has greatly improved our students’ engagement in learning and we believe that beekeeping will directly benefit our students by giving them an authentic and engaging learning opportunity at school, a hands-on element of their instruction, and a connection to the community where they can (as kids) be a legitimate partner. Our program, called The MVBees, will teach the students about self-regulation, responsibility, empathy, economics, and other life skills such as beekeeping.

We chose MVBees as our name because MV is an abbreviation for Mountain Valley, but it’s also a play on MVP . . . Instead of “Most Valuable Player” it’s “Most Valuable Bees” and also “Mountain Valley Bees,” since this project incorporates the whole Mountain Valley region and not just one school.

What will your program entail?

The MVBees will start with the 4th- and 5th-graders at Meroby Elementary and Mountain Valley Middle School. They will learn all about bees, pollination, ecology, small business creation, and beekeeping. From there, they will prepare presentations and teach the other grade levels in their schools. They will install the bees into the hives and get our apiary growing. Students in both schools will have the opportunity to make art and other items to sell on a student-created website, working together toward a common mission.

In the summertime, we will offer a youth MVBee Academy for students to learn about beekeeping while caring for the summer needs of the hive. Soon we will begin incorporating Rumford Elementary School students into the MVBees program. When the new school is built, with all K-8 students combined, we will have a common project that we are working on together.

How will the community be involved in the apiary and beekeeping process? How will Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico be involved in your schools’ apiary project?

We are looking forward to providing a way for the community to purchase honey, student-made items, and queen bees to help financially sustain our program. At this point, we expect that as ideas come about, more opportunities for community involvement will reveal themselves and we look forward to growing this involvement.

Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico will be a key player in helping us get our apiary built. We are still in the design and planning stages, but it is looking like the Region 9 students will be building several sheds for us, clearing and leveling the land, and helping us make connections with others who can help where they aren’t able. We are excited that RSU 10 students will have such a huge role in this program. It will be an apiary program for students, built by students!

To read the complete article go to; Face Time: Teachers Maggie Corlett and Lacey Todd — buzzing with excitement about beekeeping – Lewiston Sun Journal

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