An Afternoon at the Apiary

The community center took a field trip this week to visit an apiary. And no one was stung! A small miracle.

bee hives

The Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County partners with a local beekeeper to offer free educational “Open Hive” days to people interested in learning more about bees. I was actually not all that interested in learning about bees, but we like to bring our kids to quirky free things, and this fit the bill. But let me tell you: It was fascinating.

Did you know that 90% of the bees in a hive are female? The ladies do all the work, collecting pollen, making honey, stinging invaders, and taking care of the babies. The men, or drones, just kind of hang out. They don’t have any of the physical attributes, like pollen catchers on their legs (please excuse my technical jargon), that make them useful to the hive– so in the winter, the females kick them out into the snow to die. Isn’t that crazy?

bee hive

The beekeeper “smoked” the bees to dilute their sense of smell, which is how they detect threats and communicate with each other. He pulled out a number of different frames where the bees had built their combs and let the kids stick their fingers in the raw honey. He dug deeper and showed the kids where the bees had laid their babies, he pointed out the queen bee, who was marked, and then he let the kids hold the drone bees, who don’t have stingers, poor guys.

bee hive

I am so glad we went. Go find your local beekeeper and ask for a lesson. And some honey. Trust me.

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