By Dexter Lane, Nature Explore Consultant
If you have an outdoor infant area and bees from a nearby nest swarm around flowers just beyond the fence you have to take action. If that outdoor area is in a school with a Certified Nature Explore Classroom, this problem could lead to a teachable moment. And that is exactly what happened earlier this year at The Fredrickson Family Early Childhood Center at California Lutheran University, in Thousand Oaks, CA.
The beehive was just over the fence of the infant area. In this situation many schools would probably take the easy route of extermination, but not here.
A teacher remembered that one of the student’s parents, a professor at the University, had received a grant to work with bees. As the director was leaving a message for this professor to ask for his help, a visiting college student mentioned that he was involved in the same beehive project. Soon a two-man team of apian specialists visited the school.
Children watched intently as the men “suited-up” for the job- complete with their hanging-mesh hats. Since one of the “bee-men” was the father of one of the children, another layer of intrigue entered the experience. You can imagine the children’s excitement as they watched the hive being taken to its new home in the University’s community garden.
The whole process was a win-win-win. The children learned about bees. University students received experience in hive relocation. Plus the bees’ lives were saved, and they received a lifestyle upgrade in their living and feeding conditions.
Because the children were fortunate enough to be in a school with a Certified Nature Explore Classroom, their learning went deep. They learned about bees, including the conditions under which they risked being stung; a rational learning of bee safety. When bees are learned in this way, they become appreciated for their contributions to our lives, and respected for needing their own space to do their work.
Too many of today’s children develop unrealistic fears of being outdoors. Not so, for the children at The Fredrickson Family Early Childhood Center. They are tomorrow’s stewards of nature. Our society, and our planet, needs a lot more like them.