BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Raleigh County Virtual School students get a crash course on honeybees on Monday morning, October 23, 2023, during an in-person lab directed by an experienced beekeeper.

A bee colony was on display at Raleigh County Board of Education central office, where the lab was held.

Raleigh County Schools science teacher Bernie Bostick, who directs the virtual school, arranged the lab. He said labs, including the bee lab, not only give students who learn online an opportunity to socialize, but that labs are vital to studying science.

“We’re trying to have one at least one {per} nine weeks, so that they can come in and get a little better idea of what we’re teaching them in class,” said Bostick. “It’s very hard to teach science, because it’s so hands-on, and it’s not a good thing, if they can’t see it.”

Mark Lilly, who is head beekeeper for the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective, said his bees, which he brought to show students, offer the best opportunity for hands-on learning.

“I wanted to add, not just the lecture part, but working hive, where the kids can look at the actual bees, and then, like, a digital microscope, to try and give them some different ways to learn, that would maybe not be, boring,” said Lilly.

One student and her father took time to check out the bees inside the hive, where Lilly had marked the queen bee with a non-toxic yellow color.

The bottom level of the box, where the bees were congregated, was warm. Lilly said bees keep their hive at optimum temperatures, by using their own body heat.

Students said they learned interesting facts, including the fact that bees won’t “use the bathroom” inside of their hives.

“Bees poop in the snow,” said Deaven Beasley, a student. “They can hold it for, like, a month.”
Students said Lilly’s lab gave them a sense of responsibility towards honeybees.

“It makes you want to contribute more and help keep more bees alive, like maybe keep more flowers,” said Noelle Lawson, a virtual student who attended the lab.