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Mamaroneck High School Boasts State's First Scholastic Beekeeping Program

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There's a big buzz behind a public high school in Westchester County.

The school is the first in New York to establish a "bee team," as in honeybees.

They were suited up to get hands-on with honeybees. Tucked away behind Mamaroneck High School are three active hives, containing a combined 50,000 honeybees, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Monday.

They're cared for by the school's bee team. Dozens of science students, learning how the bees collect pollen, create the comb and produce a harvest of honey.

"It's so amazing! How can a bee do all that in like 11 weeks? It's crazy," student Brennan Vincent said.

Students at Mamaroneck High School in Westchester County take part in the state's only scholastic beekeeper program. (Photo: CBS2)

The queen bee of this effort is science teacher Cathy O'Reilly. She was inspired to start the first beekeeeping program in a New York state public school.

"I think we're not going to be the last, though, because I think a lot of people are going to see how cool it is, how the kids love it, and I think we'll get more people interested in bees," O'Reilly said.

"You know, we're always looking for ways within the department, within the school, to try to find classes to sort of connect together and do things sort of as a team," engineering and robotics teacher James Love added.

That's why the engineering classes got involved, building the hives. Later this fall, when the honey is ready for harvest, students in the culinary program will use it to make tasty treats.

Students have come to understand how bee populations are under pressure -- and vital to our agriculture. In all, 30 percent of our food supply depends on the pollinators.

"I'm very interested in nature. So to see how the bees build their hive and what they go through is pretty interesting," student Emma Thorpe said.

They're getting an education -- in apiculture.

Some of the students admit they were afraid to spend time around bees, but it turns out honeybees are pretty docile. Not a single student has suffered a bee sting.


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