MEXICO — Meroby Elementary School students celebrated World Bee Day on Monday at the Mountain Valley Middle School apiary center, where they participated in bee-related activities. 

World Bee Day is meant to “raise awareness on the essential role bees and other pollinators play in keeping people and the planet healthy, and on the many challenges they face today,” according to the World Bee Day website.

At the apiary, students were outfitted with beekeeping suits from the help of their teachers and volunteers to prepare and protect them from the possibility of getting stung.

Fourth grade teacher Maggie Corlett, dressed in her beekeeping suit, was one of the teachers who were directing students during their visit and beekeeping classes Monday.

Meroby Elementary School literacy coach Katie Nolette, left, and volunteer Dawn Roberts help kindergarten students put their bee suits on Monday at the bee apiary outside Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Corlett is a beekeeper and a leader for the MV Bees Academy program, which is a self-sustaining apiary program, at the school. She was also one of the Regional School Unit 10 committee staff that prepared the grant application for the $100,000 Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures grant from the Maine Department of Education, which paid for the entire MV Bees Academy apiary’s building, beehives and other needs in 2022.

During Monday’s event, Corlett told the Rumford Falls Times that the “whole purpose of this (apiary) is not just to have an apiary; the purpose of this is to offer the students a place where they can experience the calming benefits of the bees, (and) also (for students) to learn how to calm themselves.”


Corlett said that she and the other educators and community members involved in the project want students to experience what it’s like to be inside an apiary.

“What we discovered recently is kids really value holding a bee. And so, if they don’t get to hold a bee, they leave very disappointed. So, they want that physical contact with a bee,” Corlett said.

Community beekeepers Albert Borzelli of Happy Hive Farms and Linwood Swett guided many the students in receiving a bee directly from the hive to hold in their gloved hands.

Meroby Elementary School kindergarten student Clive Flaherty gets a hand putting his bee suit on at the bee apiary Monday at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico. Students celebrated World Bee Day with various bee-related activities. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“You can see the difference in the kids; every class, they all want to hold the bee and they are sharing (the bees with each other),” Borzelli said. He also explained that students learn a lot in their science classes about bees and they also learn how bees can become infected by mites in their hives.

Kindergarten students Hank Pinkham and Clive Flaherty, who both had their time holding a bee, simply said that the experience was fun, while their classmate Madilyn Kersey asked Borzelli why the bees didn’t all escape from their hives.

Borzelli said to her, “They know where their hive is and they acclimate to that hive … they all work together in the hive and they smell the same to each other, so they know which hive it is; it’s called pheromones.”

Corlett also said the teachers have found the program helps increase students’ engagement and attendance. “So, if it was going to be a tough day (with students’ poor behavior) I would pull out a beekeeping lesson, and they would immediately go back to learning in an excited, happy way.

“So, I can get more learning (done) anytime I can bring beekeeping into anything, the kids are excited to do it,” Corlett said.

Another important aspect of the MV Bees Academy program is their business, which can be found on the district’s website. On the site, several handcrafted items are for sale, prepared by the MES fourth grade students such as honey, beeswax candles and even live queen bees. Soon the students will be making lotions and lip balms with the beeswax from their bees, Corlett said.

Math teacher Karen Wilson, top, works Monday with third grade students as they look at observation bee hives at Meroby Elementary School in Mexico. Students celebrated World Bee Day with various bee-related activities. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

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