BeeSpace Exposes Students to Honeybees

November 17, 2009

Honeybee gathering nectar. (Image courtesy of National Geographic KIDS website.

MANY OF US have fond childhood memories of endless summer days, lounging in patches of fragrant clover that invaded our neighbors’ manicured lawns. Shuffled into those same memories are the equally vivid sightings of industrious and seemingly dangerous bees, which oftentimes abbreviated our lounging amidst said clover.

Still clinging to the generalization of bees as the probable source of burning pain, enlightenment has come to me in the form of BeeSpace, a University of Illinois program that focuses on Western honey bees (Apis mellifera) as a model for genomic research.

This endeavor is funded by the National Science Foundation and has far-reaching implications in how scientific work is carried out and shared.

It should come as no surprise that David Stone, Uni biology teacher, is at the heart of this innovative project that combines the talents of professors, graduate students, and other high school teachers.

Famous for leading his Field Biology classes on countless bug-gathering excursions, Stone has been a vital element of BeeSpace's cutting-edge accomplishments since its inception in 2004.

Surrounded by stacks of lab supplies and mysterious specimens suspended in mysterious fluids, Stone found time in his busy schedule to share with me the latest developments in the world of bee study.

"[BeeSpace] looks at bees as a model organism for the study of behavior," explained Stone. "After hatching, a worker bee spends roughly the first two weeks as a nurse bee. After the first two weeks, for the rest of its life, it is a forager.

"What they found is, genes are turned on and turned off at various times. [Honey bees] are probably one of the very best organisms for looking at the link between genetics and behavior."

A major component of BeeSpace was a weeklong workshop that took place in July of 2008. In it, a sampling of Uni students learned about the biological and economic aspects of honey bees.

An integral component of this workshop was its balancing of hard and soft science. After the students immersed themselves in heavy topics like Colony Collapse Disorder, they were allowed to escape to the fuzziness of baby bees (no stingers!) or the subtleties of honey derived from local blossoms (taste test!).

Stone's latest energies toward this project have centered on an online curriculum called Electronic BeeSpace. Primarily derived from the BeeSpace student workshop, the goal of the Web site is to disseminate previous and ongoing research to the worldwide beekeeping community.

Within this community, teachers are obviously closest to Stone's heart. A variety of user-friendly modules can be accessed on Electronic BeeSpace. Presentations are broken into digestible portions so that teachers can craft their lessons around handpicked, class-specific concepts.

Stone likes the flexibility of his program.

"It's customizable, and I think that that's the big plus of this project, because you can come in from a number of different ways and use it at a number of different levels," he said.

On Aug. 3, the Entomological Society of America featured Electronic BeeSpace as the "Buzz of the Week" on its own Web site.

Stone continues to pursue other venues for his work. He plans on incorporating materials from Electronic BeeSpace in the courses he teaches at Uni, but he's still in the process of determining exactly which lessons he will use and in what order. He said those decisions will be largely based on the reactions he gets from other teachers.

"[BeeSpace] was a nice opportunity for me to be involved in University things: to essentially focus on lab mission here at University High School. I think that this will be a bigger focus at the school as time goes on."

In the course of studying bees, Stone has combined his insect fascination with a love of photography that yields images both beautiful and educational. His photos elevate his work to an artistic level.

"It's been really cool for me because the lens and camera have allowed me to see things that I've known about forever. [Now I'm] actually able to see the small-scale movements and patterns in which organisms do things."

Stone's sentiments about his foray into natural photography can be applied to his involvement with BeeSpace as well. As he summed it all up, "It's been very cool."

Story by Elizabeth Innes, Communications Specialist, I-STEM Education Initiative.

More: 8-12 Outreach, Entomology, Funded, Uni High, 2009

Nobel Project’s End-of-Year Zoom Bash Recaps Learning

February 1, 2022
The STEM Illinois Nobel Project held a special, end-of-the-year Zoom event celebrating its participating students’ achievements.
Full Story

It’s not magic, it’s physics

January 26, 2022
In Franklin STEAM Academy, Musical Magnetism program makes STEM fun, approachable.
Full Story

Program prepares STEM educators to teach all students

November 30, 2021
This summer, a group of educators gathered to learn about engaging STEM activities they can do with their students.
Full Story

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program

November 11, 2021
Undergrads get a taste of research through I-MRSEC’s REU program.
Full Story

Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp

November 1, 2021
Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp Incorporates Art, Design, Mechatronics, and Mentoring
Full Story

TechTogether Chicago to Redefine the Hacker Stereotype

July 10, 2021
New workshops that can help inspire students to pursue careers in technology..
Full Story

Aerospace Engineering Launches Virtual Summer Camps to Pique Students’ Interest in Aero.

July 2, 2021
Design an aircraft then watch it soar after launching it with a huge rubber band. Build a Mars lander to safely transport a real egg, then test the contraption by dropping it from a second story window.
Full Story

Undergrads Experience Materials Science Research Courtesy of the I-MRSEC REU

June 16, 2021
Ten undergraduate students are spending the summer of 2021 discovering what research is like.
Full Story

MatSE Afterschool Academy

MatSE Afterschool Academy

June 14, 2021
MatSE Afterschool Academy to Introduce Students to Materials Science and Beyond.
Full Story

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

June 14, 2021
Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest While Researching Task Collaboration.
Full Story

Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS

What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like?

May 25, 2021
NSBE’s Michaela Horn Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS, and What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like.
Full Story

Jenny Saves a Convertible.

Children’s-Book-Writing Duo/

May 19, 2021
Convertibles and Thunderstorms—Children’s-Book-Writing Duo on Their Way Thanks to Illinois Training and Encouragement from Mentors.
Full Story

Improve Learning in Engineering

Improve Learning in Engineering

May 17, 2021
Liebenberg Espouses Mini-Projects to Engage Students Emotionally, Improve Learning in Engineering.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

BIOE435 Capstone Projects

May 12, 2021
BIOE435 Capstone Projects - BIOE Seniors Use Knowledge/Skills to Problem Solve.
Full Story

Elani and Gonzalo shine a UV light on a rose that has absorbed a solution that has made it fluorescent.

Illinois Scientists Shine a (UV) Light on Fluorescence

May 7, 2021
What is fluorescence? What causes it?
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

HackIllinois 2021 “Rekindled Connections” With The Tech Community

May 5, 2021
Annual student hackathon HackIllinois with the aim of developing projects on current problems facing society.
Full Story

A Shane Mayer-Gawlik image of the Bridger Aurora, part of his Night Skies photography collection exhibited at the Art-Science Festival.

The Art-Science Festival

April 26, 2021
Illinois Art-Science Festival: Illuminating the Universe...from the Quantum World to the Cosmos.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World

April 22, 2021
Ready. Set. Go! Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World.
Full Story

HML 2021 Virtual Health

HML 2021 Virtual Health

April 19, 2021
Make-a-Thon Gives Citizen Scientists a Shot at Making Their Health-Related Innovations a Reality.
Full Story

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

April 7, 2021
I-MRSEC’s Music Video for EOH ’21 Plugs Graphene, 2D Materials
Full Story

Health Make-a-Thon Orientation

HML 2021 Health Orientation

March 30, 2021
HML 2021 Health Make-a-Thon Orientation Prepares Finalists for Competition.
Full Story

Andrea Perry shows Franklin students how to take apart the magnetic drawing board they received in their kit

Musical Magnetism

March 25, 2021
Musical Magnetism: Encouraging Franklin Middle Schoolers to Express Science Via the Arts.
Full Story

Carmen Paquette street performing.

Love of Science

March 9, 2021
Paquette Conveys Her Love of Science, Dance to Franklin STEAM Students Via Musical Magnetism.
Full Stroy

An Engineering Exploration participant exhibits the tower they built as part of the engineering challenge related to Civil Engineering

Engineering Exploration

March 2, 2021
SWE’s Engineering Exploration Outreach Lives Up to Its Name.

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

February 23, 2021
Helps Chicago Youngsters Progress Along the STEM Pipeline Toward Engineering.

Kathny Walsh

Kathy Walsh

February 17, 2021
On Her First Foray into STEAM, Kathy Walsh Acquaints Franklin Students with Microscopy, Haiku.

ChiS&E student

ChiS&E CPS Students

January 19, 2021
Illinois Undergrads Encourage ChiS&E CPS Students Toward Possible Careers in Engineering.

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

CISTEME365 Provides Year-Round PD/Community

January 4, 2021
to Illinois Teachers in Support of Informal STEM Education Efforts to Underserved Students.