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Guest Post: Apiaries and Bees for Communities

This week, I would like to extend sincerest thanks to Stacey at Apiaries and Bees for Communities (A.B.C.) for writing a guest post. We are delighted to donate $0.25 from every lip balm sold to support their educational programming. In this post, Stacey will be sharing more information about their educational programming with us! Without further ado, I will turn it over to Stacey.

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When most people think of bees, their first thought is…honey! But there is so much more to the world of bees – thousands of individuals working expertly together to create pounds of delicate wax comb, raise thousands of young worker bees, keep the hive clean and safe from predators, tend to the queen, and, of course, transforming drops of nectar, from millions of trips to flowers, into over a hundred pounds of honey, all in one short summer season.

The life of the honey bee is complex and fascinating – for kids and adults – so much so, that ABC founder Eliese Watson started referring to them as “gateway bugs,” sparking in people a greater interest in all insects and building a curiosity about the ecosystem we share with these little critters.

Classroom Visits

In 2013, ABC Bees began offering classroom visits and hands-on summer field days to share this passion for bees and expand ABC’s stewardship efforts. The popular classroom programs are built off of the Needs of Plants and Animals and Lifecycles curriculum and can be adapted to all ages and teaching philosophies. Kids have the opportunity to interact with a real-life beekeeper with exciting games, great photos, and interactive props exploring a range of concepts including bee identification, pollination, jobs of the worker bee, and elements of bee habitats. The goal of these programs is to take kids from ‘yuck’ to ‘wow!’ and to view bees (and other pollinators) not as something to be feared, but as important members of our natural environment and partners in our gardens.

In addition to school presentations, ABC Bees has spent the last few years working independently to develop toolkits and lesson plans specifically catered to the elementary school curriculum. These fun and interactive tools will allow teachers to easily incorporate pollinator education into their existing lessons. Currently in the pilot phase, we hope to have them in teacher’s hands in 2017.

Field Days

Summer Field Days take the learning one step further by getting kids (and adults!) into a bee suit and teaching them to be a beekeeper for the afternoon. There is nothing quite like the rich, waxy smell of the hive and the taste of fresh honey on a warm day. While focused on the resilient management of honey bees, the field days, like the classroom visits, aim to inspire acts of pollinator stewardship build a sense of wonder and appreciation of the natural world. In 2016, ABC Bees’ Field Days were held at partner yards at Heritage Park and Grow Calgary. Both collaborations provided an opportunity to explore the importance of urban agriculture (past and present respectively) and to consider the direct connection between bees and our food.

Future Direction

Currently, ABC Bees gets to teach over 600 Calgary students each year in elementary and junior high and another 100 kids (and adults) in summer Field Days, but we’d love to see that number grow. We are so thrilled to be partnering with YYC Beeswax to create a fund the will allow us to bring dynamic classroom presentations to schools with limited budgets. The bee season may be drawing to a close, but that just means more time in school getting to share our passion with a new generation of bee lovers!

For more information, visit the ABC website.

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Thank you once again Stacey for sharing information on your programs with us! It was a pleasure to learn more about the program and to share it with our readers.

We are so excited to support the educational programs at A.B.C. by donating $0.25 from each lip balm sold. Every year, our goal is to beat the previous year’s donation. See how we’re doing so far this year by checking out our progress on the community page! If you’d like to purchase one of our lip balms, head over here.