SEATTLE -- It's not uncommon in science buildings for classrooms or labs to have warning signs posted, but the one on a door inside the Winkenwerder Forest Sciences Laboratory doesn't warn of explosions or chemicals. It warns students they could get stung.
"Other bees parade around her like radially, like flower petals, and that gives it away," explained Professor Evan Sugden.
Sugden is talking about how to locate the queen honey bee.
"Which is something everybody needs to learn in this class," he said.
Sugden teaches bee biology at the University of Washington. Earlier this year, 12 hives were told to buzz off due to construction on campus. Today, they're reduced to just six.
Some suggested the roof of a dorm, but the bees would have had to make it past dozens of rooms while risking escape.
The homeless hives temporarily moved to Sugden's backyard, until a classroom opened its doors.
"Having an observation hive in the classroom is fantastic. It's something we didn't have before," Sugden said.
The bees enter and leave through a white tube, but it's not the only new real estate the bees are getting used to.
"It's not easy to find a place for a number of hives," Sugden said.
Three backyards in Seattle neighborhoods are also new adopted homes.
Bee populations are at dangerous lows, threatening pollination and with it agriculture. It's why Sugden, students and neighbors are building their own colony of tiny apiary advocates.
The bees in the classroom did need a special hall pass since at least one building staff member is allergic. It's unlikely they'll escape, but if they do, this class is now trained to catch them.
Copyright 2016 KING