Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

     One thing I have particularly enjoyed about owning the Beez Neez Apiary Supply has been the opportunity to share that experience with my grandchildren. A number of them have been enthusiastic volunteers helping at the store now and then.  Some of them seem to really enjoy helping with customers or working at the cash register while others are very enthused about the bees themselves.  Following our recent cousin camp, my granddaughter Hannah (age seven) spent some time helping me work my beehives, then spent most of the day helping at the bee store. I was amazed at her bravery while I worked the hive.  She worked the smoker for me, smoking the bees down off the topbars of the frames so that it was easier for me to pick up frames without hurting any bees.  She was paying very close attention to that and let me know any time I inadvertantly crushed a bee.

     Later, at the bee store, I had to remove some queen bees from our queen bank.  The queen bank is a small "nuc" beehive with no queen of their own and lots of young bees who take good care of  about 40 or so queen bees confined in cages.  The confinement is necessary to keep the queens from wacking each other.  Hannah stood right by me as I removed the queens form the queen bank then watched closely as I marked one of the queens.  Once the queen was marked, Hannah quickly volunteered to help me put the queen back into her cage.  This involves handling the queen with bare hands and can be a bit tricky.  Some queens go right back into the cages and some seem inclined to do anything but that.  Hannah's queen was a bit contrary so grandpa ended up putting her back into her cage.

   The thing Hannah seemed to enjoy the most at the bee store was our observation hive.  I've had bees in it for over three weeks now and so far they are doing quite well. It is a big attraction for any kids that come into the store.  Hannah spent a lot of time watching the bees in the observation hive asked a lot of good questions about the things she saw. 

     I was really impressed that Hannah stayed at the store until the end of the day. I even gave her a chance to go home and she declined.  Its pretty unusual that a kid that young doesn't get bored and want to go home and play at some point.   I think Hannah will make a pretty good beekeeper some day, but it may be a few years before her dad will allow her to keep a beehive in their backyard.     

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