This past weekend I did something I never thought I’d do… beekeeping. I love bees, what they do for us and the environment is invaluable. (If you haven’t seen my post about the bee-based crafts I made on the farm earlier in the year, you should check it out.) But honestly, I’ve always been a little afraid to work directly with honey bees. Something about being surrounded by thousands of tiny flying insects that may or may not want to sting you always gave me the heebie-jeebies. But this weekend I was able to overcome my fear and help transport and install two packets of bees at the Homeadow Song Farm apiary.
I drove over the bridge to Kentucky with Vicki (the director of Homeadow Song) to a wonderful bee-farm. I was a little nervous about walking out onto the farm without any special gear, even if it was just to pick up the packages.
Here’s stacks of hive boxes I saw when we picked up the bees!
Here’s what the package of bees looked like up close! There were so many bees in there!
It turned out to be fine though, and we transported the two containers of bees in the back of my car to the farm with no problems. Once we got back we prepared the hives for the new bees, and put on our bee suits.
I’m trying on my bee suit!
I was pretty excited to get to try a beekeeping suit on for the first time! And I was also pretty happy because I felt a lot safer with my mask.. but forget the details.. I then became the cameraman, and captured some snapshots of Vicki unloading the bees into their new hives… as I kept a safe distance. 🙂
See the clump of bees leaving the package?
Look at the bees overflowing from the the hive as they get used to their new home!
After working with the bees, I asked Vicki a couple of questions about how the bees played a role on the farm.
Me: How do you incorporate the bees into the educational aspects of Homeadow Song Farm?
Vicki: Children are here throughout the year during their classes to experience the cycles of the seasons, bees are woven into these cycles. The child may experience bees connecting to the plants on the farm for example, but the lifecycle of the bees are incorperated into everything. They observe the direct relationship of the insects to the plants on the farm. We are working with the children on restoring the meadow into a pollination garden, creating a more versatile habitat for the bees. We also work on communtiy projects about the bees and the hive, through wax figure making and wool felting, for example. One way the children experience the bees is that the children help harvest honey. They then decorate jars for their honey with handmade wax figures. They also use this honey to make honey butter to put on their cornbread snack every week. When they are not working directly with the bees, we tell stories about what bees do in the winter. But the spring and summer are more active seasons for observing the bees. Last spring we observed different the collors of pollen the bees collected. We separated the pollen into colors – there was some orange, pink, white, and yellow – and then we made cakes to welcome the new bees into the garden. We created heart stencils to dust the pollen onto the tops of the cakes, so for example, there were yellow cakes with orange hearts, and they were all beautiful. But the main thing we do with the bees that that we are teaching kids to love nature – becasue if they they learn to love a particular place like the farm, they will grow up to love the land. The bees are all year, and what they learn is what happens as it happens on the land. What we are trying to work on with the children is: how do you create awe and respect for what’s in the natural environment. What were are doing is not about making the children fearful, by telling them things like that the bees are in danger. It’s about developing care for the environment, and when they grow up they will use what they learned to be better stewards for the environment.
Me: You talked a lot about the children’s program, but are there ways adults can get involved in your bee program?
Vicki: Well, we like to work with different interns that care for the bees. Certain interns or WWOOFers will come just because they want to care for the bees – or work with the children in caring for the bees. Usually every season I attract at least one person to work with the bees, but I would like to expand this program in the future. I am hoping to attract people who are interested, and want to invest time in being a part of what we have here.
Classes are also offered to the public to people who are interested in learning more about bees at Homeadow Song Farm.
I have certainly enjoyed working with the bees as a part of my internship (even though I may not be completely comfortable around them yet), and I have learned a lot about their imporance during my time on the farm. If you are a student looking for an internship, or a WWOOFF-er seeking a welcoming and wonderful biodynamic farm experience, or a person interested in one of the classes, visit www.homeadowsongfarm.com to learn more, or contact Vicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bee Happy! 🙂