Bee hive forces school to make changes

April 21, 2008 2:28:19 PM PDT
Students at West Clayton Elementary School are forced to stay in school longer to avoid getting stung by bees. The invasion appears to be coming from a neighbor's yards. Ron Lassiter started keeping the bees about a year ago, capturing bees from a hive in one of his neighbor's trees.

Now he has 20,000 bees - an operation that includes a warning sign, letting people know of the danger that honey bees sting to defend their hives.

Lassiter's yard backs up to a lot where school buses park at West Clayton Elementary School. Crystal Roberts with Johnston County Schools explains, "In the afternoons when it's a little bit warmer because spring is upon us, there are swarms of bees." Because of the bees, the school has been moving its buses. The principal has decided that on most days, pick up will be moved to the front of the school, where there's less space and more traffic congestion in the afternoon. That means some children are getting home an hour later than they used to. "We have students who are allergic to bees, so one bee sting could be very tragic for us," Roberts said.

Parents seem comfortable with the school's decision to delay dismissal. They're not as enthused with the bees themselves.

Lassiter concedes his honeybees will swarm from time-to-time, but says they're not particularly dangerous when they do. "When there's a swarm like there was at the school, they're not aggressive, they're protecting their queen, and looking for a new hive." Lassiter adds, "Unless a child were to swat one or to mash it they don't sting."

Lassiter says he understands why parents and teachers are concerned and says he's happy to work with the school to find a win-win solution. He says he hopes this can turn into an education experience for the students.

The town does not have any rules against bee-keeping so he's not breaking any laws.


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