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Thursday, April 7, 2011


This week we were visited by Todd Walker, a local photographer who keeps bees as a hobby.

First, Mr. Walker showed us his exhibition hive.  This is not the actual hive that the colony lives in, but this allows them to travel and makes it easier to see what the bees are doing.  He told us that there are three kinds of bees in every colony:  one queen, many female workers, and some male drones.  He marked the queen with a dot of blue paint so that we could find her easily.  Can you find the queen?

The drones' main purpose is to mate with the queen.  They are larger than the workers and have huge eyes.  Here, Mr. Walker is pointing to a drone.  The worker bees do all the other tasks of caring for the queen and the hive.

The kids were fascinated with the bees!  Mr. Walker was great at answering their questions.

Next, Mr. Walker showed us a regular hive.

This one was empty, and the children were able to see how each frame was made up of a basic plastic honeycomb-shaped base that the bees could build upon.

Then he showed us the tools of the trade.  This is a smoker, and he puts pine needles in it and sets them on fire so that he can pump smoke into the hive through an opening in the base.  This makes the bees lethargic and less likely to sting him as he works in the hive.

I must admit, I can't remember the name of this tool - but Mr. Walker said that it is one of the two most important tools for a beekeeper.  It allows the keeper to pry up the frames when the bees have fastened them together.

This is a veil, and it covers the beekeeper's head and neck.  Bees like dark places, and Mr. Walker said that they would head for your nose if it were not covered up.  Who would want a bee up his nose??

He kindly allowed the kids to try on the veil - but it was a little big.  :-)

If you have never spoken with a beekeeper or seen a hive, check it out!  Bees are fascinating creatures.  Your
local agricultural extension office  should be able to put you in touch with a local beekeeper.

If you'd like to try your hand at baking with honey, visit Laura for a huge number of recipes using honey.

To learn more about bees, check out these resources:

Bee Education


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