They learn, I learn

By Bob Sitko

        Part of the requirements of getting certified as a Master Beekeeper requires ten public appearances talking about honeybees. After completing this, I just kept going and so far have given presentations to the whole gamut of ages; pre-schoolers to senior citizens with fun experiences at each of them. Here’s some of the memorable:

        Seniors Citizens – There was not one time when someone did not have a relative who kept bees or had a story about getting stung. They really appreciate your coming and readily share good stories. We usually have honey on bakery buns afterward.

        Boy Scouts – They all like to try on the big gloves and helmet/veil and lunge at each other. This is the group I like to caution about molesting bee hives with rocks and other missiles. I want to bring back the Beekeeping Merit Badge.

        Pre-schoolers – They are amazingly polite, sit on the floor very quietly, and are learning to raise their hands to ask questions. Some they forget their questions. One little girl was so smitten with a boy in her class she sat on half of him and gazed into his eyes most of the time. She was stuck closer to him than the deer tick that gave me Lymes disease. They like the touch and feel of honeycomb and beeswax. We have honey on crackers.

        Physically handicapped adults – They range from those really talkative to those having a most difficult time physically speaking. They usually live in a group so they almost know what the others are trying to say and sometimes speak for them. They ask amazingly good questions so they are not mentally handicapped. When I asked if anyone had ever been stung, one young man in a wheelchair got really excited, waving his arms and I could not understand him but they told me what he said. He had been stung on the wrist as a child and never forgot. Another young lady who had a very hard time completing three continuous words in a sentence without stuttering and stammering said in response to the sting question “ I hate it when they do that! “ in one complete perfect sentence to everyone’s surprise. What a response to the sting stimulus!

        Kids together with parents – This is a great time for parents to spend some class time with their kids. Both will have family stories about camping and other outdoor experiences with honeybees. And they go away with a better understanding of honeybees and a Honeybear

        Gardening Clubs – These are held in places from private homes to community centers.

In all the clubs I’ve spoken at, there has never been a man in attendance. These gals are especially impressed with the function of the Queen’s spermathica.

        Flower shows – Here you meet the public head-on. You get a lot of technical questions but fortunately you are usually there with other beekeepers. An observation hive really draws them in.

        Backyard Beekeeping School – Half my students are gals who just want a couple of hives in the backyard. Teaching this course really forces you to keep up on the latest, especially on pests, diseases

and techniques. You also end up with a lot of books on beekeeping for reference reading. My filled bookshelf is about seven feet long.

        Television Appearance – Even though I selected a narrow subject “Honey bees and Pollination” four fast minutes on the camera left me with a lot more to say. On my way out of the studio, the switch board already was receiving related questions.

If you want to become a better beekeeper, try telling others what you know about honeybees, then you’ll soon find out what you don’t know about honeybees.

Bob Sitko: