Benton Bees begin Harvest of the Month Club with honey

Thursday, May 7, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:50 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 7, 2009
"Honey Treats" are healthy, sweet snacks that include honey, peanut butter, dried milk, uncooked rolled oats and raisins. Children at Benton Elementary School were being taught the recipe as a healthy snack alternative.

*CORRECTION: Joyce Coats' classes rotated through stations to learn about bees and honey. An earlier version of this story misspelled her name.

Honey Treats

Combine in a bowl:

1/2 cup Walk-About Acres honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup dry milk

1 cup uncooked rolled oats

Mix by hand. Shape into balls. Experiment by adding raisins, coconut, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc.

Source: Walk-About Acres

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COLUMBIA — In Benton Elementary School’s first Harvest of the Month Club session Wednesday, fifth-grade Benton "Bees" learned about their mascot's namesake and the valuable crop they produce — honey.

Jim Ronald, a 4-H specialist, talked to the students during the session.

“This is the very first time we’re doing it. We decided to start with you all because it’s your last year at Benton,” said Ronald, who volunteered along with Benton-Stephens neighborhood residents Kathy Doisy and Kip Kendrick. “It’s appropriate to start with bees because you’re Benton Bees.”

Joyce Coats'* and Jamie Becker’s classes rotated through stations where they made honey treats, examined a beehive and rolled beeswax candles.

Vera Gelder of Walk-About Acres brought a beehive and jars of honey from her beekeeping farm. She said she regularly makes school presentations and hosts field trips to the farm, which has 15 beehives and includes goats, rabbits, emus, pigs, chickens, ducks and geese.

“(The kids) love it. They always have lots of questions,” Gelder said. “We teach them about honey bees, all the things they do and why they’re so important to us. One out of every three bites we eat needs to be pollinated, and honey bees are the best pollinators.”

The beehive she brought to Benton was a small one — with only 3,000 honey bees — she said, but it will have 100,000 by the end of the summer.

The fifth-graders asked a variety of questions regarding the queen bee, pollen, how the bees get in the hive, how the honey gets out, why bees sting and if bees fight.

Gelder took the time to answer every question, sharing with students many interesting facts about honey bees. The queen lays 2,000 eggs per day and has a life expectancy of four to five years, while others live for 45 days, collecting pollen and caring for the queen.

“They’re taking care of her, combing her hair,” she said of the attendant bees.

Gelder added that honey never spoils, and 2,000-year-old honey has been found in Egyptian pyramids.

She explained to the group that honey bees are not aggressive, just territorial.

“You wouldn’t let just anybody come into your house,” Gelder said. “And this is their house.”

Ronald, who was a beekeeper for 10 years, showed the group different types of honey from Walk-About Acres before making honey treats with the help of students Tyrone James and Jacob Beck.

“I got to mix up the stuff and do something fun,” Tyrone, 12, said. “I could taste the real honey. It tasted like cake.”

All the students got to try the treats, some made with peanut butter and some with raisins.

“It tastes kind of like peanut butter cookies, but with honey,” Julia Cook, 11, said.

“When it comes to something new, what’s the most important thing?” Principal Troy Hogg asked the students as the treats were passed out. “Just try it. You might like it.”

The Harvest of the Month Club will continue in the fall by bringing in local growers to teach students about their crops. Each month, students will have the chance to learn about and cook with locally grown food, usually followed by a relevant art project.

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