HBS second-graders visit RIC beehives

Jim Murphy, RIC's first-ever sustainability coordinator, shows second graders from the Henry Barnard School a bee model labeling different parts of a honeybee.

RIC’s first-ever sustainability coordinator Jim Murphy and local children’s author Susan Ring welcomed two second grade classes from the Henry Barnard School to visit RIC’s new beehives on the East Campus on Oct. 9.

“My name is Jim Murphy, but my friends call me Buzz!” said Murphy, clad in his bee suit, when the class arrived at 10 a.m.

As Ring pointed out, several of the students were wearing striped shirts to honor the bees. Each member of the class brought their own clipboard and notepad to record “new learning,” said Karen Capraro, one of the second grade teachers, who put her own bee suit on and joined Murphy when he got up close to the hives.

Murphy opened the discussion by asking the students what they have been learning about what bees do. The second graders talked about the production of honey and wax, and also mentioned pollination. Murphy also showed the class various beekeeper’s tools, including a hive tool, which is used to separate the propolis insulation bees create to seal their hives, and a smoker, used to calm the bees when their hive is opened.

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Ring a book she wrote titled, “Honeybees: An Amazing Insect Discovery Book,” which she read from and talked about with the class. She discussed three types of honeybees – the queen, workers and drones – and what each of their responsibilities are in the hive. Ring also talked about how bees communicate with one another through different types of dance.

The HBS second graders were already well informed about the material since they have been learning about bees in class.

Local children's author Susan Ring reads to HBS students from her book "Honeybees: An Amazing Insect Discovery Book."

RIC is currently the home to two beehives: Queen Latifah’s, which Murphy opened to show the second graders, and Queen Bee-atrice’s hive. Between the two hives there are approximately 20,000 bees, said Murphy.

Ring donated an autographed copy of her book to the students of HBS at the end of their field trip, and Murphy gave the class a sample of honeycomb along with his promise to answer any questions they thought of by email, and to visit their classroom in the future.

Murphy would like to have other schools visit in the spring to experience learning about beehives firsthand. Jennifer Giroux, RIC interim associate vice president, added that the bees have proved to be an educational opportunity for students of all ages.

For more information, contact Jim Murphy at jmurphy2@ric.edu or (401) 456-8799.