We had an amazing opportunity to work with the Houston Zoo Teen Program this weekend and teach young adults about the importance of bees. We were so excited to find out that many of them had an introduction to beekeeping through a hive that is kept at their school – how cool is that?!?
As always, we got to learn while teaching and had so much fun listening to the experiences of this next generation of beekeepers.
If you’re wondering what a day of learning looks like at our farm, it was a combination of presentations, conversations, and hands-on experiences. We discussed so many topics I am afraid to try and list them, but here goes:
- The variety of pollinators living in Texas
- Different honey bee species throughout the world
- Challenges that honey bees face every day including pests, diseases, and human created threats
- The history of beekeeping
- Bee behaviors
- Bee class systems and jobs
- Bee reproduction and mating
- Resources within the hive and how to recognize what you’re looking at inside the hive
- Queen spotting
- The life cycle of bees
- How to become a beekeeper – what types of hive options and tools you use when beekeeping
- Different flavors of Real Texas Honey and how honey flavors change with the seasons and foraging options.
- Steps you can take to help native pollinators and honey bees
This was a unique experience for us because we had an intimate group for 4 hours of learning. These teens had great ideas for pairing honey with nuts and cheeses and stepped out of their comfort zone to experience the bees. They were able to spot the queen inside the hive even with it full of drones for the Spring season and could tell you what each honeycomb cell had in it – pollen, brood, honey, larvae, pupa… you name it. They had it down.
Listening to the oohs and ahhs as we shared all the jaw dropping honey bee facts we could muster up and listening to Steve Butler of Company Bee about his experience in beekeeping and removing bees out of trees and structures made for a fun Saturday. Many of these guys had actually seen swarms in real life and have watched bee documentaries to gain knowledge about bees – the passion they had for the environment, learning, and bees was so inspiring. They had interest in conservation and were even taking entomology classes as their school! Junior High and High School are apparently way cooler now. We can’t encourage people enough to go out there and explore, whether it’s beekeeping, nature walks, picking up trash, planting trees – look around and watch for the pollinators as you go about your daily life and make decisions with them in mind, encourage others to do the same, and keep learning how you can help keep them (and subsequently our food supply) safe.
We teach a number of classes to all age groups and experience levels. It’s always a blast and we can’t wait to do it again! If you know of someone who enjoys learning about nature and animals – the Houston Zoo Teen Program offers a number of experiences that encourage exploration and education… If only I was a teenager again!!