News from the North House News & Reflections from the North House

Notes from the Hive

The keeping of bees aligns perfectly with Dr. Montessori’s model for the adolescent to observe the natural world, incorporate physical and intellectual work into an area of study, and to produce an economic commodity.

As cold winds blew outside, students diligently assembled and painted mini hive boxes, called nucs. We hope to use these small hives during the upcoming bee season to house spare queens and to produce brood that we will introduce into other hives to boost population. The idea is: more bees, more honey. But first, our bees needed to survive the harsh Ohio winter...

We are pleased to report that through our efforts and a bit of luck, all four of our beehives survived the winter. Upon first inspection we learned that not only did our hives survive, but they are thriving. 3 out of the 4 hives had beautiful brood patterns indicating robust and healthy queens.

The hive that did not have any brood, eggs, or larva, was indeed “queenright” (meaning there was a queen) but she wasn’t laying eggs. Upon examination it was discovered that she had an injury to her wing. Perhaps she was sick or damaged in some way. Regardless, if the hive is to survive, they must have a laying queen. To remedy this situation we placed 3 frames of eggs, larva, and capped brood within the hive with the problem queen. If the bees desired a new queen they would “make one” by feeding a newly hatched larva a steady diet of royal jelly.

We waited a week and then opened the hive to discover that they had made 9 queen cells!

We left 2 of the 3 frames with queen cells in the hive for a queen to emerge. We also quickly placed a frame with 3 queen cells into a smaller box, called a nuc. The purpose of this is to have spare queen that we can place into any of the hives should they become queenless. This will help to ensure a good honey harvest as the hive won’t have to wait 6 weeks for a queen to emerge, mate, and begin laying eggs.

Gabrielle and Logan have been feeding the hives a mix of sugar and water. This ratio of 1:1 sugar syrup gives the bees a bit of a boost in rearing brood before the main honey flow begins. Students will also begin replacing wax in the frames, painting existing boxes, conducting inspections, recording actions, and hopefully, harvesting spring honey.

The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth. --Maria Montessori


This season students are employing the gardening method of square foot gardening. This method is efficient in both space and in seed usage. So far, it has been working beautifully. Students have purchased, cut, and assembled the grid system that we’re using in several of our raised beds.

Students have been starting seeds indoors and directly sowing seeds in our raised beds. Outdoors, students have been planting spring crops of radishes, beets, turnips, arugula, spinach, and carrots. Indoors, students have planted herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and a variety of flowers. We are very much looking forward to tasting our own homegrown produce!

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