Honeybee crisis

Teach: Field Trip to an Apiary


I had some super-exciting news this week: an article I wrote about my food-themed experiential English 101 was accepted and is currently NISOD’s featured Innovation Abstract. NISOD is a national organization that focuses on professional development at two year and technical colleges, so it is kind of a big deal.You can read it here: christinerai-nisod-innovation-abstracts

Honeybee crisis
These little buzzy bugs have an important role in our food system, and they need our help right now.

Anyway, this semester I am teaching the second iteration of this course using the same flipped, experiential model. Our first field trip was to a local apiary to learn firsthand the integral role bees play in our food system and why they are currently in crisis. The students were prepared ahead of time by watching a documentary and TED Talk and reading up on the honeybee crisis. However, there is something magical about being in the midst of these charming and surprisingly complex insects that video or the written word cannot adequately capture. Upon arrival, students donned their head nets and hung back, unsure what sort of reception the bees might give them. By the end of our visit, though, students were leaning in to take photos of the bees, asking incisive questions, and tasting honey.

Students at the bee apiary
Students were engrossed in the bee experience, thanks to our host Dave Maloney.

My students will synthesize all these resources to craft an essay about the honeybee crisis and what beekeepers, the general public, and policymakers can do to help. But I truly believe that long after students’ memories of the paper fade, their sunny morning with the bees will remain. Therein lies the power of experiential education: its potential to create truly meaningful and lasting learning.

Are you aware of the current honeybee crisis? What are you doing to help our buzzy little friends?

Looking to learn more about our food system? Check out Teach: Fox Haven Organic Farm & Learning Center and Teach: Why We Need to Teach About Food

Want to learn more about the honeybee’s role in our food system and why they need our help with a poignant documentary? Click here to purchase More Than Honey. Or rock some funky bee socks: Sock It To Me Bee’s Knees Women’s Knee High Socks women’s shoe size 5-10. A portion of your purchase from Amazon will go towards keeping my blog up. Thanks for your support!


  1. Mikaela Sanders

    I love so much about what you do! Giving students an experience to draw from to compose an essay has to be so much more meaningful for them than simply reading about it or drawing from prior knowledge. However, I think what I love most about what you do is that you actually get the kids out of the classroom and take them on these, amazingly cool, field trips where they are likely to develop relationships and a sense of community based on these shared experiences. I know when I was at a community college, my relationships were limited to the people I already knew from high school as everyone came, sat in a usually quiet classroom while the teacher lectured, and then went our separate ways. I know I’ve said it before, but I’d love to be a student in one of your classes! Keep doing what you do!

    1. Christine Rai

      Thanks so much, Mikaela! I have dreamed of teaching a class like this for years and am so happy I am able to do so. It’s my goal to figure out how I can expand this course model to more of my classes.

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