A IS FOR APIARY
Two local fifth graders seek solutions to the bee problem.
WRITTEN BY ERIN MEYERING
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS HOLLOMAN
“How can we rethink Reno to make great things happen?” Ana Sanchez asked her fifth-grade students at Mount Rose Elementary School in Reno.
The goal, as part of a project-based learning assignment, was for her students to find their voices and think of a big idea to solve a problem and effectively communicate their vision to Reno City Council members.
Brooke Salassi and Peyton Wilson presented their idea, Saving Lives by Saving Bees, this past February. Salassi and Wilson suggested creating apiaries — homes for bees — atop Reno’s tallest city buildings. Not only would bees have a safe haven from the city’s hustle and bustle in which to pollinate and produce honey, but building residents would enjoy the fruits of their labors.
Their Shark Tank-style proposal wowed members of the Reno City Council (including Mayor Hillary Schieve, who helped pick the winner).
“I learned that bees are much more important than I thought they were,” Salassi admits. “Without bees, we wouldn’t have any fruits or vegetables.”
Last year alone, beekeepers lost about 40 percent of their honey bee colonies, according to the USDA. Both girls were astonished when they found out that a lack of bees to pollinate crops often destroys farms.
Because of the passion Salassi and Wilson showed for the project, they were selected to present the idea again at a larger meeting. That unexpectedly led to funding and expert advice from Britton Griffith of Reno Engineering and the Northern Nevada Beekeepers Association, which is allowing the girls to turn their idea into a reality. Salassi and Wilson still are looking for their first apiary location, but after they find it, they’re well on their way to making big moves in the city.
Since the project was assigned, Salassi and Wilson have become increasingly interested in business and may sign up for middle-school entrepreneurship classes through The Chamber of Reno, Sparks, and Northern Nevada. Their next step? Well, Battle Born Bees is the proposed name for their future honey business.
Sanchez, the girls’ teacher and mentor, says Salassi and Wilson (and other members of their class) have learned to speak to their community in a productive way, to negotiate, compromise, and work with others to find a solution to better their environment.
“It’s been a reward we didn’t see coming, and now they’ve learned the skills to be active members of their community,” Sanchez says.
Erin Meyering, associate editor of edible Reno-Tahoe, would love to see more community projects dreamed up and implemented by children. They have so much excitement and care for their environment.