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Bee Keepers Club Has UWS Students Buzzing

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Introducing city school kids to nature can be a difficult task, but when the natural wonders are just a few flights up, it makes the job for educators a lot easier. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.

Things at York Preparatory School on the Upper West Side have been buzzing.

The sixth to 12th graders are part of a special Bee Keepers Club at the school that's become a new found beehive of activity.

"I saw the group and I thought, well, where else can you do this?" said ninth grader Timothy Kent. "We look after the bees and whenever possible we collect honey and put feeders on."

The feeders are filled with sugar water and will help the bees survive the cold winter on top of the city rooftop-turned-garden. Members of the society care for five hives, which includes harvesting the honey -- often suiting up during their lunch break.

York Preparatory School Principal Chris Durnford created the club with help from the founder of the New York City Beekeepers Association, Andrew Cote, after a citywide ban on beekeeping was lifted last April.

"Here in New York City, there are very few opportunities for children to connect to nature," Cote said. "So for them to be able to come up on the roof and work with honeybees is a wonderful opportunity. This is leaps and bounds above reading about it in a book -- just getting your hands dirty, or swollen."

Not only is it a chance to learn science and produce real food, but it also helps the students connect with each other.

"It involves a lot of teamwork, you need help moving stuff around, lifting up the frames," said eighth grader William Magee. "So far we've gotten a lot of honey, about 40 pounds over the summer."

And honey isn't the only thing being produced. The bees pollinate vegetables also grown on the rooftop as well as plants in nearby Central Park.

"Bees and insects may seem really insignificant, but without bees we don't have plants, without plants, we don't have food," Durnford said. "We've been able to harvest tomatoes and peppers and eggplants and we made them available to the whole school community."

And while some students may grow an interest in natural sciences, others might reap different rewards from the experience.

"I want to be a chef when I'm older, so getting to be a part of making something that people put in their tea or on their toast, is really fascinating. I'm not squeezing out of a bottle, I'm watching the bees make this and scraping it off into a jar," said twelfth grader Emma Fournier.

For more information on other programs designed to inspire children through science, technology, engineering and math, visit ConnectAMillionMinds.com.

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