In third grade, we went on a school trip to meet a beekeeper and tour his apiary. Amazing day – jumping off the last stair of the bus to join my class standing in a small field, I was greeted by a sweet-tempered, cragged-faced, thin man with a warm smile – a beekeeper! With white hives dotting the landscape behind him, he showed us his bee suit, hive tool, and bee brush. He lit his smoker and while smoke billowed out the top, he discussed bee biology and the use of smoke in working a hive. I don’t remember how long we stayed or the beekeeper’s name, but I will never forget the beautiful, calm feeling of being around his honeybees.
Last week, about thirty years after my field trip experience, I visited the first and third-grade classes of Southold Elementary School to introduce them to my bees. My parents gave me an observation hive for my birthday last year so the girls were able to come with me to school. The whole scenario made me chuckle when I went into the main office to sign in with the bees on a handcart behind me. Interesting that each first-grade class thought the smoker smelled like bacon. Impressively, a majority of the students knew that it is the female workers that collect nectar and pollen from the flowers and are the ones responsible for making honey. We then talked about native bees, food webs, pollination, and bee communication. Communicating like bees by wiggling our bodies and dancing around the room seemed to be a highlight for the students, as it was for me! Actually, bee dancing was so much fun that I think I might try this in my talks geared toward adults too! Soooo, thank you to Southold Elementary School. I had a great time and I hope they did as well.