GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- On May 5, students at Grafenwoehr Elementary School got a hands-on learning experience with the newest subject in their curriculum: bees.

Reinhold Birner, a hobby beekeeper, set up stations outside the school to show how bees create honey and beekeepers harvest their windfall. He was aided and translated by his daughter Elke Birner, environmental engineer for the Directorate of Public Works.

Students watched bees at work in a glass hive, locating the queen; donned beekeeper hat and gloves; scraped wax from real honeycombs; leeched honey from the combs; and sampled honey from Birner's bees.

Prior to the demonstration, host nation teacher Elfriede Kean, instructed her students on the lifecycle of bees, honey production and the quickly declining bee population, which inspired her to broach the subject.

"It has come to our attention in Europe that bees are dying. So in class, we looked at the importance of bees for our daily food supply," said Kean.

They discussed fewer bees means less pollination and therefore, less food.

"We thought this would be a good thing to point out to the kids," she added.
The kids caught on.
"Without the bees, there will be no pollination and there will be no food or flowers or plants," said Camilla White, 8.

While the students understood bees' essential role in our survival, many couldn't shake their fear of the dreaded stinger.

"I like bees and I don't like them. I like them because they give me honey, but I don't like them because they sting," said Angelina Uebel, 9.

"It's a love-hate relationship," clarified Cameron Mayfield, 9. "But I still think they're fascinating."