Most parents and guardians welcome any opportunity to engage their children in nature. While it’s common for kids to be accustomed to hiking, rock collecting, and learning how to identify different birds and insects, bees are not always top of mind when it comes to the topic of outdoor education. While the thought of involving your child in beekeeping tasks can seem daunting at first, we are here to show you simple ways you can have even the youngest outdoor enthusiasts buzzing with excitement about their newest endeavor!
Why is it important to teach children about bees and beekeeping?
Did you know that bees provide one out of every three bites of food that we consume? That’s right! No bees = no food. Unfortunately, our bees are in trouble - we are losing honey bees, solitary bees, and bumble bees at an alarmingly unsustainable rate. It will be up to the next generation (and beyond) to not only understand the importance of these miraculous creatures but to take strong action in conserving them.
Bees are fascinating and the enthusiasm for studying them is contagious! There are so many things to discover about hive life that you can share with children to get them curious about bees and the activity of beekeeping.
Aside from watching your child experience the magical world of bees, they’re guaranteed to learn a few lessons along the way. What seems like a casual encounter can turn into a life-long appreciation and involvement with both nature and science.
How can I get my child interested in bees?
Acknowledge, but don’t focus on fear . Many children understand that bees have the ability to sting, causing an underlying feeling of fear towards them. Answer any questions children may have and be sure to inform them of the potential dangers of bees, including stings and allergic reactions. Reflect on the concerns with positive, honest responses. Turn the focus on how to remain safe around bees and educate them on safe handling and behavior. By teaching children how to appreciate bees, it can turn fear into understanding and excitement.
Set up a honey tasting
To spark the conversation about bees and their role in our ecosystem, partake in a tasty activity! Head to your grocery store, farm, or honey exchange and pick up a few jars of raw, local honey. Have a tasting of the different kinds of honey and talk about the flavor differences between them. Is one sweeter than the other? Maybe one has a slightly fruity flavor! Use this opportunity to talk about how bees make the honey and how the flavor of honey depends on the bees’ diet.
Make a bee bath
Similar to a birdbath, a bee bath is a simple water feeder that can be set out to attract and feed our little pollinating friends. Setting one up in your yard is a great way to bring bees to the area that can be observed from a careful distance. There are different ways to build your bee bath but some general rules of thumb include keeping the water shallow, placing it in a sunny spot, and making sure there is some sort of shelter in place so bees feel safe to visit.
Consider getting mason bees
If you are looking to introduce your little ones to bees, consider getting mason bees! These pollinating superstars are so great at their jobs that they’re often referred to as “orchard bees” due to their ability to pollinate fruit trees so effectively. Mason bees are considered easier to take care of than their honeybee cousins, are super beneficial to the environment, and are an inexpensive way to start a fun project with the kids!
Compared to honeybees,
- Male mason bees do not have a stinger
- They do not induce anaphylactic shock, and females very rarely sting
- They are solitary bees - meaning they work alone and do not live in a hive with a queen - so they will not act to defend their hive.
- They do not produce honey
- They require much less equipment and cost to raise
What is Bee Camp at Keepers Collective?
Outdoor Bee Camp, held at our Snoqualmie beehouse, is a hands-on, educational program where junior beekeepers (ages 8 - 12) can learn all about bees! Camp is filled with exciting activities including beehouse exploration, interactive games, garden exploration, pollinator hunts, and lots of bee art!
Featured topics covered at Bee Camp
- Who’s who in a honey bee hive
- Jobs of the worker bees
- How bees communicate
- The beautiful relationship between bees and the food we eat
- Preservation of bees and how to be a bee advocate
Click here to learn more about our Bee Camp!