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MRH Students Gather Honey, Study Bees

Two St. Louis restaurants are using the honey gathered by students in the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.

Honey made by 's Bee and Snake Club will be in the kitchen of one of St. Louis' premier restaurants, Superintendent Dr. Linda Henke said at a recent MRH Board of Education meeting.

Niche Restaurant has been purchasing small bottles of the sweet stuff for $45 each. MRH students collected and bottled the Blue Devil Honey from two bee colonies maintained by seventh- and eighth-grade students.

Proceeds from the sale of the honey will be put into a fund for school sustainability projects and activities, Henke said.

The hives are located in a fenced yard across the street from the Maplewood Public Library.

On Thursday, bees buzzed around the wooden structures that students created.

Kay Burbank, a Special School District of St. Louis County resource teacher who works in the MRH School District, maintains her own hive and works with students as a beekeeper.

It all began two years ago after Henke attended a sustainability conference. The district wanted to teach students about the origins of their food, among other subjects.

As part of the district's efforts to incorporate sustainability into its curriculum, Burbank attended a workshop of the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association along with MRH science teacher Bill Henske and a student.

The bees arrived in April 2010, Burbank said. Students made the boxes in which the bees deposit their honey and created the bee yard. The tall boxes likely host approximately 50,000 bees, she said. The smaller ones probably have fewer than 30,000. They harvested honey June 15 and gathered between five and six gallons.

The students collected a limited amount of honey during the first year, Burbank said. They also created soap and lip balm, making up their own recipes and implementing science and math concepts along the way.

Students also will explore economic principles using the bees. They will focus on the concept of the triple bottom line, which involves a product's profit and loss; its social responsibility; and its environmental impact.

In addition to working with Niche, the students also have sold honey to Monarch Restaurant, which has expressed interest in also buying some of the produce grown in an adjoining MRH garden.

"One of the goals of this is to have real-world problems and opportunities," Burbank said.

More information about the students and their work is available on the MRH Middle School page on Facebook.

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