Are you a beekeeper with a child right on your heels?
If so, you should encourage them!
You are probably wondering how? Keeping bees is not the same as raising puppies, after all. Here is all you will need to know to begin raising pint-sized beekeepers.
Age Appropriate Tasks
5-9 years old:
If your child is between these ages and showing an interest in beekeeping there are plenty of things for them to do.
- Allow them to brush bees from honey frames very gently. This is great practice for them to learn how to be gentle while caring for bees.
- Allow them to hold the smoker. 5 may be a little young for this, but you know your child’s maturity level. If you think they can hold it without smoking everyone to death, go for it!
- Allow them to inspect for mites and hive beetles.
- Allow them to seek out other pollinators in the garden to see how they are reacting with your bees.
- Give them a chance to be artistic while decorating the bee hives.
10-14 years old:
You begin to give your child a little more responsibility at this age.
- Allow them to spray unhappy bees with sugar water in order to calm them.
- Allow them to place new, clean racks back into the hives and pull out the honey frames.
- Allow them to become familiar with the hive tool.
- Allow them to replace the lid to the hive very carefully and also to pour sugar water into the feeder (if you are using it.)
- Cleaning and storing all equipment, including the smoker would also be a great task for them.
Kids at any of the above mentioned ages should be highly supervised.
This is their time to learn how to handle and respect the bees.
By the age of 15, if your child has had plenty of training, they should be ready to care for the bees on their own.
Though they might not need you to hover over them while they are caring for them, it is still a good idea to be in shouting distance just in case something unusual takes place.
Yes, I am a protective mother so just be sure to use your judgment and make sure your child is mature enough for each new task given.
When children are working in bees they must have appropriate gear.
Bee suit or Jacket
Your child needs a bee suit. It is important that the suit fits loosely. So whatever size clothing your child normally wears, purchase a size or two larger to insure that the bee suit is baggy.
A common alternative is to purchase a jacket, which protects the upper body.
Along with a loose bee suit or jacket, your child will need a veil. This should come standard with their suit but if not, it needs to be mentioned. It is important to make sure the veil is tied properly and the strings keep the veil pulled tightly to their body so no bees can slip under the veil.
This is probably a no-brainer but along with that loose suit with veil, they will also need gloves to protect their hands. Making sure the gloves are made of a thicker material is highly recommended. They are usually a little more expensive, but you want as much protection as you can muster.
5. Proper shoes
This is one many don’t think about, but I require my children to wear boots when getting into the bees. My reason for this is because that way their suit can go down into their boots and it protects their ankles from getting stung.
As any beekeeper knows, bees can be very protective. If they deem you a threat they will certainly let you know.
Boys Vs. Girls
I am a mom of three boys. They all love the bees!
In my unprofessional, mom opinion, I believe boys love bees because it makes them feel brave and adventurous. They get to probe through the hive and wrangle the wild beast that just happens to be the size of a penny.
It is exhilarating and a little nerve-wracking until you get comfortable with them so boys find that side of beekeeping to be right up their alley.
It is becoming more common for girls to lean towards beekeeping. Again, in my unprofessional, mom opinion, I think girls like this hobby because it is artistic since you get to decorate the hives. It also requires a gentle touch.
If you find yourself being rough in a beehive, you’ll find yourself stung really quickly. Girls usually have a more gentle touch. Girls are also usually a little calmer than boys and this is a hobby that requires all of those characteristics. Not to mention, as a female myself, most girls love all things cute which bees certainly are!
Beekeeping is a very soothing yet simultaneously exciting hobby and is unique because it is able to pull out the strengths of both girls and boys.
Bee Keeping Opportunities
The 4-H is a club that gives kids the opportunity to raise all kinds of livestock, including bees. This is unique as beekeeping is still new to the mainstream of society.
It allows kids that have beehives to share what they know. Kids that are not able to actually raise their own bees are given the opportunity to have access to the hives available at the local 4-H headquarters. Check and see where your local 4-H club is located.
2. The Bee Girl Organization
This is a very unique opportunity that can reach all children. The Bee Girl Organization was founded through another organization known as The Kids And Bees Program.
This program was aimed at children anywhere the North American Bee Conference and Tradeshow was held. They had great success.
So they decided to start another branch known as The Bee Girl Organization. They travel to any school ranging in the age of pre-K through 12th grade.
This program offers a bee lesson, hands on activities, and an observation hive. This is a great opportunity to give kids information in regards to bees and allow their interest to blossom.
3.Local Bee Associations
Every state has multiple bee associations. They are there to help local beekeepers.
These associations offer bee schools; beekeeping licensing; and much more to the local beekeeper. These programs also offer opportunities for you to get your kids involved.
You can join these groups if you are a beekeeper or just someone wanting to gain a greater understanding before diving into beekeeping. This is a great place for any child to start.
They will be given the opportunity to learn from those that have walked this path ahead of them. That is the best way to learn any hobby, by watching those older and wiser.
I hope you find them helpful and are able to raise confident beekeepers.