To bee or not to bee? That was the question Parklands’ Lead Teacher in Maths and Science Mrs. Kristie Schulz had to ask herself when a group of Year 10 STEM students wanted to adopt a hive of native Australian stingless bees into the school community.

For biology teacher and bee enthusiast Mrs. Schulz, the answer was a no-brainer.

A few weeks before Mrs. Schulz had had a dream come true when a roaming swarm of European honeybees, Apis Mellifera, wandered onto school grounds in search of a new home.

A professional beekeeper was called in to rescue them and remove them to safety – and noticing an eager Mrs. Schulz nearby, asked her if she wanted to assist.

‘They suited me up in the bee suit and I helped him scoop them in. We were looking for the Queen specifically – once you get the Queen in the box then all the rest go in,’ said Mrs. Schulz.

‘It was an incredible experience, being (safe) in the middle of a bee swarm – the sounds alone were amazing.’

‘Unfortunately, the bees voted (yes you read that correctly – voted) to continue their search for a suitable home, and swarmed away.’

I couldn’t resist asking Mrs. Schulz what she meant by the bees voted.

‘They voted by a process of the number of bees who are in the air circling around the box,’ Mrs. Schulz explains. ‘If that becomes more than what’s in the box, it’s kind of like them voting to leave.’

Mrs. Kristie Schultz in the bee catcher suit in 2018!

It was after telling her story and sharing photos, videos and testimony with many groups of students around the school that a pair of year 10 STEM students felt inspired.

As a part of a STEM project, they decided to adopt a hive of native Australian stingless bees, Tetragonula carbonaria or Sugarbag bees, into the school community – and PCCBees was born.

The very same day that a hive was installed by Dr. Toby Smith of Bee Aware Brisbane, Parklands also rescued a colony of the same species from a felled tree on school property, a ‘magical day’ in the words of Mrs. Schulz.

The Bee Club was officially launched this year, after a false start in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. Mrs. Schulz says she is overjoyed with the response from interested students.

‘It’s just going so good. We’ve got this good little group of students. They’re really enthusiastic and they’re so enjoyable to be around and they just make it so fun.’

‘At the moment we are working on maintaining and really establishing a pollinator garden. We will need pollen all year round. Which means you have to make sure you’ve got plants that flower at different points in the year.’

Dr. Toby Smith of Bee Aware Brisbane assisted in setting up the new hives at PCC

Together with a Woolworths Landcare Grant, Mrs. Schulz and her team are planning on splitting the hives to create a total of four by September.

‘Simply meant to bee,’ we concluded cheekily.

You can learn more by visiting the Parklands Bee Club Instagram page at

https://www.instagram.com/pccbees

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