Sunday, July 10, 2016
Bee School for Kids Finale
The final day of bee school was cloudy and drizzly, but we still did manage to spot and capture a few bees. This is an eastern bumblebee, a non-native bumblebee escaped from a greenhouse where they are used to pollinate tomatoes and peppers. Sadly, these bees are often diseased and displace local bumblebees from their nests. Judging from the furry tuft or moustache on its face, I'd say it was a male.
You can see his blonde moustache here in this photo: Magnum B. I., bee detective.
I did see one turquoise sweat bee on our safari, but sorry, no photo.
We spent some time under the tent making bee flags with three different silhouettes: honeybees, leafcutter bees and bumblebees. I also told some stories about swarm-gathering experiences.
We also took a closer look at the flowers the bees are visiting nearby, choosing samples that had been damaged by the recent activity with the railway tie removal. I don't like to take viable flowers away from the bees!
We also looked closely at the flora to find other creatures like this spotless ladybug.
And sometimes, as with this bald-faced hornet, the creatures came to us.
After further discussion on what we can do to help the bees, we did some gardening.
Joey led the group in digging potatoes and planting flowers.
These flowers aren't great for bees. It's the perennial sweet peas that have the best nectar and pollen rewards. They did also plant blanket flower and tithonia, which are great for bees. It's pretty late in the season for planting, so hopefully we'll have a nice warm fall for those flowers to bloom for the bees.
We also made a bee oasis for the honeybees to sip at when the weather gets sunny and dry. We placed it right next to the entrance of a bumblebee nest the students noticed about a foot away from the beehives! Better not cover up that entrance hole! We need a little "home sweet home" sign for the bumblebees.
When asked what the favorite parts of the camp were, harvesting and tasting honey and catching and releasing bees were at the top of the list. I'm hopeful that these students will grow and develop in their relationship to the stewardship of honeybees and wild bees.
Thanks to Joey and Tricia for inviting me to be a part of this important summer school.