When you think of beekeeping, this particular image might come to mind — an elderly man living away from the city, clad in a beekeeping suit, tending to his hive and collecting honey once every summer. Admittedly, that might be a common sight, but beekeeping is actually an activity that’s enjoyed by people across all ages.
In fact, thanks to the increased awareness and concern for the bee population over the years, beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular across people of all ages and genders. And as more people embark on the beekeeping journey, more are starting to realize and spread the benefits of engaging in this activity, especially among children.
If the mental image of a child in a beekeeping suit being swarmed by bees still alarms you, read on to find out more about the amazing benefits of beekeeping for our young ones.
1. Beekeeping is great for science education
For children, a hands-on approach to learning is always preferred. Not only is it more effective as a teaching approach, but it also encourages a keen sense of curiosity. As such, beekeeping is the perfect activity to teach children about the natural world.
Imagine the childlike wonder and amazement when kids learn about bees in the classroom and then get to see them in real life, coming up close and personal with these cute creatures. In terms of curriculum, beekeeping is perfect for teaching children about the natural life cycle of insects.
Bees have a four-stage life cycle as is typical of insects, going from the egg to the larvae, pupa, and then finally emerging as adults. In a real beekeeping experience, children see these stages for themselves and are then much more likely to recall these facts than if they were taught solely in a classroom setting.
2. Beekeeping is great for teaching soft skills
Apart from scientific knowledge, it’s also important for children to develop soft skills like teamwork and collaboration if they want to succeed later on in life. Well, beekeeping is one of the best ways to inculcate these skills.
After all, bees are social creatures, interacting with and working together as a colony every single day. They are some of nature’s best examples of what it means to work together in an organized unit. By exposing a child to this, it’s a great opportunity to teach kids about working with others and being committed to a role or an assigned job.
On top of that, beekeeping is more than peering at bees — it’s actual work. Inspecting the hive, using hive tools and maintaining gear are all tasks that are important, but aren’t too difficult for a child to handle. So it’s a great way to teach kids about responsibility, diligence and taking charge of a mini-project.
3. Beekeeping is a great bonding activity
While we certainly would like to see beekeeping become the norm; for now, it’s definitely one of the most unique and novel experiences that you can share with a child. Both of you will remember interacting with the bees and enjoy each other’s company for a long time to come.
Moreover, as our cities become more and more urbanized, it gets tougher to spend time in nature. That’s bad news, as engaging in nature is important to build a child’s understanding of the world at large.
That’s where beekeeping comes in. It’s a great activity that helps to build bonds, and at the same time, exposes children to this interesting part of nature. Take this chance to show the child how honey is made, what a queen bee does and looks like, or even just let them explore the unique frames in the hive.
P.S. It’s also particularly hard to forget the sweet reward that comes from beekeeping – which you can share with the kid at the end for a tasty treat.
With this bunch of benefits, you might be inclined to start beekeeping with your kids or introduce it to your classroom. Well, before you get started, it’s always good to put yourself in the shoes of the children so you can tailor your approach accordingly. In that light, here are two possible ways a child might perceive beekeeping for the first time:
1. It’s presumed to be scary to many
Let’s face it — even adults find a swarm of bees scary. We’ve all heard of people getting stung before, or have even had our own encounters with an angry bee. As for children, they may have heard stories from their parents, or watched cartoon programmes portraying bees as dangerous creatures.
The good news is that bees aren’t usually aggressive at all, especially when there’s a calm and collected beekeeper involved. That said, it’s highly important to respect the fears of children, and not to force any child to participate.
Instead, what you can do is to convince them through your words and your manners. Explain gently what bees are and how safe it is to handle them. Ask them if they have any questions, and answer them sincerely to quell their fears.
Depending on how ready the children are, you might want to tailor how many bees you introduce to them at first. Some kids can go straight into a beekeeper suit and approach a whole hive, but others might be more responsive to just hold a couple of bees first.
2. It’s unknown
Beekeeping will be a completely new thing for children, unlike other activities like new sports or new food which kids tend to already have a handle on. As such, it’s important to brief them beforehand to avoid any unwanted accidents.
One of the most important things to tell them is to move gently. Kids have a ton of energy, and this can translate into sudden or abrasive movements with the bees — not good news for the easily startled bees.
To instill and ensure a level of calmness around the hive, you might wish to adopt a gradual approach. Expose the child to the hive from a safe distance away first, before moving closer and eventually touching and actively engaging with the hive.
In conclusion, beekeeping is a valuable activity that will benefit children and makes for wonderful bonding time. In fact, exposing them from an early age can even help them to develop soft skills like teamwork and collaboration — skills they will definitely need later in life. Just take the right precautions, and you’ll be able to reap the amazing benefits.