Thursday, May 1, 2014

World as Classroom: “A Way to Bee” at Ramapo College

By Kristen Andrada

I’m sure if you’ve read my bee-related stories on this website, you’ll find many similar ideas and information in this article. What can I say? I’ve grown to be passionate about sharing my experiences and (actually very little knowledge) on bees. I’ve only engaged in this hobby for a little over a year already. It seems like almost every day I think about something bee-related in regards to tending to the hive, tasks that I still need to do for the Ramapo College Beekeeping Club (RCBC), or personally where I can learn more about the practicality and theoretical notions behind bees and beekeeping. It helps that the more I write about this fascinating topic the more I research different aspects of it and learn about it.

During the week of Earth Day, RCBC hosted bee demonstrations to share the wonders of what it’s like inside a honeybee hive. Students from the club had learned how to properly open, inspect, and close the hive from beekeeping training a week before to be able to share with others their experiences being up close and personal with the hive.

The week before demonstrations I actually asked Lynn Paglia, our beekeeping mentor, if she was available to teach the students how to beekeep before they performed the demonstrations. She told me that she was unavailable for personal reasons but she encouraged me to teach the students on my own because she believed in my ability in inspecting and handling the hive and teaching that know-how to others. I can be quite modest despite the many times I’ve visited the hive myself, so I was not exactly confident about teaching others. But when it came down to it, I had to teach RCBC members how to beekeep myself because Lynn couldn’t come by.

It worked out. By the end of the demonstrations, the members who actually tried to learn how to beekeep made incredible progress. Few were nervous but had this drive to continue, even when they saw me get stung (for the first time too) – and I was calm about it and tended to the sting accordingly.

They learned the different parts of the hive, they learned a bit about honeybee anatomy and their important functions, they learned how to differentiate different contents in the comb such like pollen, nectar, honey, and the different stages of brood (the honeybee young), and most importantly, they learned the role of the honeybee in society - that the honeybee contributes to a third of our food system. The students taught all of these things to the people who attended the bee demonstrations during Earth Week.

I can’t say how proud I am of these students and their dedication to learn and do more to protect the bees and share their beekeeping experiences with others. I can’t say how proud I am of myself for creating this club to do exactly what it intends to do, inspire others to make a difference (and care for the bees on campus, of course).

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