A month or so ago, we bought two full bee suits, one for Emily and one for Dave. Right now I’m using the half suit that we got with the bees, but I’m hoping to upgrade soon.
Emily’s bee suit is a woman’s size small and it is absolutely enormous on her. She’s not on her knees, she’s standing, her feet and legs disappear and as you can see in this picture, she has her gardening gloves on instead of the gloves the suit came with…
At the last minute we couldn’t find her rain boots but her snow boots worked just as well. You can’t see them, they are covered in the folds. This suit will last her for years.
My goal here is to get her acquainted with bees, and unafraid of them. Recently she got a little too close to a bumblebee, thought it was okay to touch it, and got stung on the tip of the finger. It’s made her a little jumpy and I really want her to be comfortable with bees and know how to handle them and the beehives correctly.
The average age of a beekeeper in this country is 56 years. Emily, and other kids, can help balance that number out. We met a homeschooling family at the Poplar Heights Summer Festival that were beekeepers. I could tell just by talking to the teens that they were actively involved in beekeeping with their parents.
Now Emily was a little nervous on Sunday night as we headed out to do some work on the hives. She hung back and gabbled nervously about bee stings and how the bees looked upset. We just kept telling her it was okay and that the bees were doing what came naturally. I think it will take a couple more visits before she feels entirely safe. As she grows bigger, I am looking forward to her helping out – learning how to build a small fire in the smoker with burlap (the smoke diverts the bees and redirects their energies from defending the hive to eating honey instead) and keep the smoke going – learning to brush the bees gently from honey frames ready for harvest – or simply learning about the different bees (this is a drone, here is a worker bee, and that’s the queen!) and knowing how to spot disease or problems in the hive.
I figure if we start out slow, she will eventually become comfortable with our insect friends and appreciate even more the wonderful benefits that beekeeping produces (honey and built-in pollination!).
How much benefit and good will the act of beekeeping bring to her world in ten or twenty years? A lot, I hope. Even if she doesn’t do it for a living, even if it is only a hobby, Emily will have learned an important and beneficial skill in the years to come.