Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 June 2019

Bee hives thrive as Dubai school pupils enjoy a brush with nature

American School of Dubai is now home to 90,000 bees as part of an eco-friendly initiative

A Dubai school has been transformed into a hive of activity - as pupils get a lesson in global sustainability by caring for tens of thousands of bees.

The American School of Dubai decided to let children learn sustainability through hands-on experience by setting up a new bee garden at their campus in partnership with the Beekeepers Foundation UAE.

The three beehives are home to over 90,000 Apis Mellifera honeybees, also known as European honey bees. Each hive has about 30,000 bees and the school hopes hope to grow the number to a total of 150,000 bees before the end of summer.

The UAE’s pastures are conducive to bees and experts believe the country has the potential to become a global hub for beekeeping.

Children as young as eight will suit up in protective gear to inspect beehives every week as part of their beekeeping training.

The initiative is aimed at second-grade students, who will carry out weekly hive inspections, plant pollen-rich plants, and ensure the bees are well fed and protected.

Sandra Carden, the kindergarten to grade 12 garden co-ordinator at American School in Dubai, said it is crucial that children are educated about the need to protect the environment at an early age.

"The school is encouraging children to think like global citizens and help and support nature," said Ms Carden.

"Bees are vital to our ecosystem and they are crying out for our help. We can help at a local level and it is something children can do."

At the school, pupils are excited to inspect the hives but due to the demand, the teacher will have to create a schedule so children can carry out the work in turns.

“We are hoping that they don't see bees as annoying pests that need to be feared. Their biggest fear is that they will be stung. Hopefully, they will see that bees are part of our ecosystem and we need to think of bees as part of the economic security."

Leigh, a grade two pupil at the school, said she was excited to see how a queen bee lays eggs.

The three hives at the school have queen bees called Cleopatra, Sassy and Nefertiti.

"I’m excited because I would like to see the bees and how they pollinate. I like bees because they help our earth and if we did not have bees we would not have so many things," said Nina, another grade two pupil

"I’m excited about the hive because I want to see the queen bees," she said.

"I’m most excited about seeing the queen bees. I heard they are able to sting multiple times," said fellow grade two pupil, Zachary.

The child said he is excited to see the busy bees at work.

Bees pollinate about 70 out of 100 crop species that feed 90 per cent of the world's population.

Bees pollinate crops worth more than $15 billion a year in the United States while honey bees in the US produce honey worth about $150 million every year.

Loss of habitat, global warming, and pesticide use have led to bees disappearing or leaving their colonies.

They play such a crucial role in the planet's ecosystem that United Nations has even declared May 20 as World Bee Day.

Agriculture data from the UN indicates that a third of all food produced in the world is directly dependent on pollination.

Updated: May 25, 2019 12:01 PM

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