First and foremost, thank you to everyone who responded to the blog last week. I am amazed by the level of support bees and education have received. Thank you! Also, this is my first time doing anything like this....so if I seem inexperienced, I am. Please forgive :) My day job (well, evening job) is working second shift in the inpatient pharmacy at the VA Hospital.
It has been one week since the West Seattle Blog posted the idea about educational beehives in High Point, and I am happy to be sending out the first update on the project to everyone who has expressed interest. I certainly did not expect the quantity of responses or level of enthusiasm that I received, and it has played a huge role in my dedication to proceed. So, OK, game on...let's do this!
First, I think I should share some of the very exciting responses that were sent after the blog.
1. Shipwreck Honey has offered to build us our first handmade custom built beehive right here in West Seattle! Amazing! Check out Daniel's hives...they're beautiful and I think it's going to look fantastic! http://www.shipwreckhoney.com/
Here's Daniel's response:
"we got tipped off to this article earlier today, glad we came and checked it out. Your doing something very good and we love it: Protecting our precious honeybees AND engaging our community in the craft. Its right up our alley and that’s why we are proud to custom build and donate what we hope is your first confirmed Beehive for 2013. When you’re all set-up and ready to roll we will begin your build, just let us know here: firstname.lastname@example.org"
2. Laura Bermes, the counselor at West Seattle Elementary has offered to team up as far as the grant writing and much of the organizing that is involved with that. She has also spread the word around the school and had the following response to add:
"sounds like you have a project that can work! I emailed the WS Blog article to my teaching staff at West Seattle and the art teacher for next year said she'd love to coordinate having the kids work on a project. Our School Nurse, who runs a mosaic club after school, is interested in helping too, as are a couple of classroom teachers."
So I've been thinking that a bee mosaic would be a great addition to a project like this from the beginning (durable artwork, can highlight and display the artwork of West Seattle students, and mosaics just look cool). Now I find out there's an after school mosaic club within walking distance of the beehives?? Incredible.
Second, attached is an email that I sent out to the principals of public schools within the West Seattle Area. I've also attached a list of the West Seattle schools I am aware of. I am planning on contacting West Seattle Montessori (don't have an email address yet). The K-5 STEM school is still in the works, but we have a contact for them...thank you Robin! Let me know if there are any schools I have missed! I've heard back from a few principals and science teachers who are interested in utilizing the hives.
Third, we have a project manager through the Department of Neighborhoods named Laurie Ames, and she seems very helpful and excited - cool!
Fourth - what next?
- Design - knowing what we want to build will be a pretty big part of knowing what to ask for. I'm envisioning an enclosure big enough for at least four hives, a shed for equipment, at least one long bench outside each side of the enclosure and perhaps rows of benches along one side of the enclosure for classes/meetings), three large bee info signs and one dedication/tribute to donors sign, and artwork. Of course that's just what I've been thinking...perhaps we should meet at some point to draw up some ideas/plans??
I do have a friend who is an architect/contractor who is interested in helping us out.
Note: The location and available space isn't absolutely finalized yet. So the design is certainly pending the space we can use. This starts to get a little complicated since it will be in a public space and the liability involved with having bees. In short, it looks like the bees are a go, but they would preferably go in a Seattle P-Patch space since these spaces come with P-Patch liability coverage. Right now, space is a little limited in the available P-Patch areas compared to another vacant area - but we're working on getting this all sorted out! There will definitely be room for beehives either way - just the room for signs and benches may vary.
- Fruit trees? - Nothing would complete the full circle of bees and pollination education like having a few fruit trees in the area. Plus fresh local produce and having some pretty trees in the area sounds pretty cool too. Laura is contacting the West Seattle Food Bank regarding getting them involved and making sure the fruit would be properly harvested. Perhaps the West Seattle Nursery could help us out here with purchasing trees at cost? Any other ideas? I think berry bushes would be nice as well.
Again, this is pending the space we can use. I will certainly get back to you all as soon as I know more about this.
Getting the word out - the response so far has been great! I think it's important to keep the ball rolling though. If you know anybody who would be interested in receiving updates, let me know!
Ok, wow, that's probably enough for now. Thank you again for your time and interest. Let me know if any of you are interested in organizing a meeting!
Oh, and if you're on this list and don't want to be...let me know. Certainly don't want to be bothering anyone.
Hello Principals of West Seattle Public Schools,
It is truly an honor to be communicating with you, and I should admit that this email is
something I have been working up the courage to send for several months now. My name
is Lauren, and I live in the High Point Community. I have been exploring the option of
creating an observational beehive enclosure (with a focus on education) within an
available park space in High Point, and would love to extend any educational opportunity
the beehives may have to all students and teachers within the West Seattle area.
Last week I posted this idea on the West Seattle Blog and have been blown away by the
responses I have received. The blog contains further details of the project (projected build
date would be spring of 2013) as well as responses from the community. I have also
received 20+ emails in response to the blog which have included three different Bee-
related companies within West Seattle (Shipwreck Honey, Big Dipper Wax Works, and
Seattle Bee Works), leadership from the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, West
Seattle Elementary, High Point Library, and many enthusiastic neighbors who are excited
about bees and education. The level of enthusiasm West Seattle has shown for bees and
the beehive project continues to amaze me, and is certainly a primary motivating factor
for finally putting this email together!
Here is a link to the blog: http://westseattleblog.com/2012/05/laurens-idea- saving-bees-
through-education- but-she- cant-do- it-alone
I have also been discussing this idea with members of management at High Point and the
Seattle P-Patch Program for several months. They have been working to iron out the
logistics and liability of such a plan (including meeting with members of the Seattle
Housing Authority and Open Space Association). Although it is not finalized yet, I have
been told that they cannot think of why it wouldn't work out and to continue with
community outreach. In fact, gathering community support will only increase the
likelihood of the beehives getting a "green light".
Do you think that any of your teachers would be interested in utilizing the beehives? I
believe it would be easy to arrange demonstrations of working with the bees, either
hosted by myself or other local beekeepers. And of course the hives and surrounding
signs would be on display for the entire public to come see at any time. I know that it is a
bit early, but am primarily communicating now to get a sense of the level of interest from
the schools. This will help guide my approach to planning for the hives as well as the
presentation of the grant proposal I intend to submit to the Department of Neighborhoods.
This grant would help fund the beehives, the enclosure, educational signs, and artwork
(and potentially some fruit trees and bushes for the area as well). I also know that time is
limited and precious in the classroom, and that the demands teachers face are huge and
only growing. I can only imagine that the ability to plan ahead must be huge for any type
of event planned by a teacher.
Of course I would never presume to know the type of material that would work best in a
classroom. But, if there are any teachers who are interested, and if it would be helpful, I
do know that these materials are available from the makers of the movie Vanishing of the
Bees: http://www.vanishingbees.com/educational-version/. Although I'm sure there are
many other materials out there, and materials that would focus primarily on the honey
bee in general. I am thinking about finding facilities that would host viewings of
Vanishing of the Bees closer to the "opening" of the beehives.
Please let me know of any level of interest that may exist within your school. Thank you
very much for your time.
Curious Bee. Forest Steward. Nature Nerd. Climate Activist Mom.