Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Summer Camp, Part I

bee with mite taking honeyToday we had our first summer camp presentation, but (in this sad world of ours) pictures of the kids are not allowed. So here is a picture of a bee with a mite that we found today, which means that the time to treat for varroa is already here. This is another item on a growing list. The bee is taking honey from my finger, a picture taken by MaryEllen. I suppose with the clarity of those fingerprints, you could run me through Interpol now.

This has been a busy, busy month, divided across two states and at least 5 states of mind. And every once in a while, a ball gets dropped. This time, MaryEllen and I found out yesterday that our first presentation to a summer camp group of 5-10 year-olds was today!

The folks at the history park participate in a county-wide program of day camps for kids, and when asked about whether we could participate and on what day, we said, "Sure! How would every other Wednesday work?" Little did we know that, ahem, we had just concluded the official scheduling procedure!

One of my main motivations in life, these days, is sharing the joy of bees, and we have been presenting a lot lately, so we thought, "Fine!" There's just one other thing we did not know: because of the torrential rains this week, the swim camp could not swim, so 22 of those kids joined 22 of the history kids for our presentation. That's right, we got 44 5 to 10-year-olds with us in one room for over an hour! Yipes! We were totally out of our league.

First of all, there were lots of questions. It was basically impossible to make a presentation. So I tried to roll with what the kids wanted. At one point, I called on a little boy, maybe 6 years old, and said, "You have had your hand up for a while! Do you have a question?"

To which he answered, "Not so much a question as a comment."

Gulp. Welcome to the well-heeled suburbs of America, where even the kids have media training.

The camp counselors told us that we did OK, though the two barely 20-year-old child herders advised us on how to handle the kids better next time! Others have said that you can't expect kids that age to sit for more than 40 minutes. Ann, who runs the park, says we should have fewer kids next time — in two weeks — and MaryEllen and I may split the group by age and take some out to the hives while some are in getting a presentation in the barn, and then switch places.

We were due to encounter a presentation we could not handle. Thus far, these programs had all gone too-too swimmingly, with us getting a bit too used to winging it. We will be doing three camp presentations in all this summer, plus the odd interpretation if a group is into it. I will be speaking to an urban youth and family gardening group in July, and then there is the county fair in August outside the city.

By the way, the field bee with the mite will continue to live, though probably not as long as she would have. The mite on her back will eventually try to get into a brood cell in order to lay more horror eggs. It's not possible for big clumsy human fingers to pry the mite off her back, and if you look at the photos, you can see that such an operation mite do alot of damage if we even could get a clean grip. Bees don't heal after they become adults (there is no protein in their diets after that) so any wounds are permanent. Pity the poor honeybees, and please root for us as we try to take care of them and help more people who care about bees.

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