OMAHA, Neb. – Duchesne Academy, which once housed nuns and college students, will welcome new residents this spring. Several thousand of them, in fact.
The school will install two colonies of honeybees on its roof, administrators announced this week. They hope the bees will pollinate neighborhood flowers and flowering plants and produce honey that the school can then harvest to use in its lunch program and to sell.
“Bees are an important part of our ecosystem and by hosting colonies on our roof we can play a small part in helping the species rebound and thrive,” said Duchesne Principal Laura Hickman, Ed.D.
Hickman and Building and Grounds Director Chris Hession selected to house the bees on the roof for three reasons: the bees will be away from predators, separated from students, and the radiant heat from the roof is beneficial to the overall health of the hive.
Duchesne had plans in place for some time to install a colony on school grounds but was continuing to evaluate the best way to do it. Then, a tipping point came last July.
Hession was performing scheduled maintenance on an exterior downspout outside Portry when he discovered a large beehive in the eaves.
“I was shocked nobody had noticed it before, because this hive was quite large,” Hession said.
He called in professional help to have it humanely removed.
The hive was eight feet long and contained approximately 60,000 bees, according to beekeeper Mark Welsch who removed the hive and transferred the colony to his property in Omaha.
The hive went unnoticed because the bees were not a nuisance and didn’t enter the building.
“I determined that if we can have a large hive of wild honeybees just outside our front door without incident for years, installing a colony on the roof would be doable,” Hickman said.
The colony will arrive at the end of April. Duchesne will partner with Welsch to help care for the bees and to develop learning opportunities for students.
“This is just one more way our educators think differently when it comes to providing our students with more quality educational opportunities,” said Head of School Meg Brudney.
Honey sales will be announced at a later date.