Volunteering

So I volunteered yesterday at the Westminster Fall Fest, at the table sponsored by the Carroll County Beekeeper’s Association. There were several other people there as well. Can I just tell you that it…was…non-stop. From the minute I got there until closing time, it was non-stop honey selling and education. They had an observation hive there (a frame of honey and a frame of brood) and an actual hive set-up: 2 deep brood boxes with 3 supers and frames in the top box.

What do you think the first question was for everyone that came up to look? Where’s the queen, of course! I told them that the queen was at home laying eggs and I could point to the hive set-up to show them what a real beehive looks like and the queen was home in one of those.

There was a yellow jacket that started coming around so I squished it. I was able to use it as an educational tool: I would hold the wasp by the wing and show the visitors how it compares to a honey bee. I told them that the honey bee is the color of…honey! And yellow jackets are bright yellow with black stripes. I also told them that honey bees are only interested in the flowers and they won’t bother you but the yellow jackets are the ones that bother you at picnics and cookouts.

There were some really good questions from people and some…interesting ones. When I was explaining something to a woman, she said “Oooh, so honey is different from wax!” There isn’t much you can say in response other than, yes, honey is different than wax. She was actually very intrigued and very interesting in the whole thing, she was there more than 5 minutes asking questions and I explained everything we were seeing which just led to more questions.

Well, we were there to educate and educate we did. I think everyone who came to the booth learned something. The draw of the observation hive is amazing, adult and kids alike were fascinated. They were able to see the inner workings of a hive which even as beekeepers we don’t get to see for more than a few minutes, so to observe them for hours is very cool. Even better there were some mortician bees trying to get rid of pupal carcasses and dead adults and couldn’t go anywhere. So they were carrying these dead things around and around trying to find a way out. One was carrying around a white head with black eyes. Unreal.

I got to see a bee cut open a brood capping and pull out the pupa, she cut off the head and started carrying it while another bee got the rest of the body and was carrying it around. TOO COOL!! Some folks got to see bees emerging, they were just in awe of what the bees do.

I explained that bees are very clean creatures and do NOT like their nests to be fouled with any garbage or poop. The part that really got them was when I told them how bees will hold their poop in for weeks and weeks during the winter until there is a warm day and they can then fly out and poop on the grass or snow. It never failed to elicit either an “Ewwww” from the kids or an “Oh my God” from the adults. Good times. 🙂

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