Save the bees.
That was what more than 15 adults and students told the Charleston County School Board during a meeting Monday.
The bee supporters spoke against a proposal from the school district to remove observation hives from five Charleston County schools over concerns of student safety and potential damage to school buildings.
The supporters, which included teachers, students, parents and beekeepers, all said that having hives in schools gives students an opportunity to learn about the benefits of bees and the science of pollination.
The district and The Bee Cause Project, a nonprofit, have been at odds for a year after the group installed hives at county schools without the district's consent.
A "cease and desist" letter was issued by the district last August.
After hearing the pleas of support, the School Board on Monday opted not to take any action on whether to remove the hives.
The board instead instructed the district to work with The Bee Cause Project to develop a formal agreement for the board to consider.
"Everybody emotionally gets the whole topic," said School Board member Chris Fraser.
The issue, he said, is that there needs to be a formal agreement to address liability and safety.
Tami Enright, executive director of The Bee Cause Project, said her group has drafted a letter of understanding for the district to consider as well as a $3 million insurance policy, but that the district never followed up.
Enright initially helped install a hive at Sullivan's Island Elementary School in 2012 before officially forming The Bee Cause Project. The group has since installed hives at Whitesides and Mitchell elementaries as well as East Cooper Montessori, Orange Grove Elementary Charter School and Charleston Charter School for Math and Science. Enright said she has not installed new hives at any Charleston County schools since August 2013, although there is a waiting list of 25 schools.
Dana Enck, director of risk safety and environmental management for the school district, told the board that programs like The Bee Cause Project need to be evaluated based on whether they are "safe and useful" for students.
She said there have been "numerous bee stings" at Charleston County schools but that it is impossible to know whether those stings are from The Bee Cause Project's hives.
The school district's safety concerns are not entirely misplaced.
A total of 83 people nationwide died on the job from insect-related injuries between 2003 to 2010 and 63 percent of those were killed by bees, according to a new study from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Enright told the School Board that according to the Centers for Disease Control less than 3 percent of children stung by bees have any type of allergic reaction and less than .001 percent of children have a severe reaction resulting in life threatening anaphylactic shock. To her knowledge, Enright said there have been no incidents of students being stung as a result of bees from her hives.
"Please do not kill this valuable program due to fear," she said.
The Bee Cause Project has installed observation hives like this one at five public schools in Charleston County. The school district wants to remove the hives due to concerns of student safety and damage to school buildings.×