As I was sitting in our 4-H project book room, the Beekeeping project book caught my eye. I’ve always been fascinated by bees. Perhaps because they produce one of my favorite sweet treats: honey. Or perhaps because their pollination efforts are crucial to our every day eating habits – pollinating about 1/3 of the crops we eat.
The Beekeeping project is a powerhouse of STEM activities hidden in hands-on hive work that teach youth how to keep records, communicate, and conduct experiments. Beginners with no experience don’t even need to own their own hive! Youth investigate a topic of interest such as bee development, pollen and nectar, or the history of beekeeping. Youth set learning goals such as attending a local beekeeping class, visiting a large beekeeping operation, or participating in a wax/honey judging contest to dive in deeper and learn more about these interesting insects.
The real home-run of this project is the work youth do in maintaining and observing their hive. Youth keep records on what bees are eating, what flowers are blooming in the area, predator damage to the hive, and identification and treatment of any parasites found. The equipment and supply inventory and income and expense records teach youth how to manage personal finances and make good decisions related to money.
This project does require the purchase of some equipment that your child will need when working with bees – at minimum (if you will be working with someone else’s bees) you’ll want to purchase a veil and gloves.
Don’t have bees? Don’t worry! Let us help connect you with local beekeepers who would love to help the first year of the project! Our 4-H enrollment deadline is less than one month away – don’t miss out on this (or any other) fascinating project!