Monday, June 15, 2009

First Honey Bee Presentation the "Bee-Attitudes"

Late last week I got a call from my local bee club asking me if I could possibly do a last minute fill in for a presentation about honey bees to a church group. They had a speaker booked but their speaker had cancelled on them. I did a quick mental check and said YES, I could do the presentation.

The ladies' group at Holy Family Church were holding their monthly meeting, entitled the "Bee-Attitudes". Most of the women had dressed in yellow and black to follow with the bee theme and the room was decorated very nicely with black and yellow ribbons and bee related posters.

The organizer, Patti, asked me ahead for a brief biography that she could introduce me with. I told her that I had been a beekeeper for one week. But I also told her that I had been researching honey bees for a year and a half and that I'd written and illustrated a children's book about them that I was hoping to get published.

The ladies had a pot luck lunch after mass and I was invited to join them for a meal before the talk. These ladies are great cooks and I really enjoyed the home cooking.

I was looking forward to the talk since I'm passionate about bees and I had done so much research on them that I was bursting to share about this amazing insect. I love being in front of an audience--yeah I'm weird that way--and so I decided to take a casual approach to the presentation (no powerpoint - they didn't have a projector). What that meant is that I didn't plan ahead too much what I would talk about, although I had a general idea what I'd like to share.

I wanted to let the audience choose the direction of the talk. The reason for this relates to my teaching experience. People learn and are much more interested if you can somehow involve them in the event. So by letting them show me what they were interested in learning about and getting them to participate as much as possible I could hopefully generate meaningful 'learning moments'.

Let's just say it went off fabulously. I started by asking them to tell me what they knew about honey bees and the audience were eager to participate, calling out common facts about bees. I would then extrapolate on their comments by adding tidbits of information. For instance when someone mentioned that they thought workers were called drones I was able to tell them that the workers are females--that a hive is a social community--a sisterhood. I explained about the very important role of the male drone to ensure the reproduction of the hive and that the genetics of the bees are preserved. I also explained how the drones had to be fed and didn't do anything else... that one always gets the women laughing.

From that, many more questions came up and I ended up spending 45 minutes answering questions from everything from "What is a Killer Bee?" to "Why does the label on my honey say 100% Canadian Honey but in the small print it says it's been blended with Argentina and Brazilian honey?" I LOVED this group! They had such great questions.

The blended honey has been a big issue with beekeepers and the government and they've been lobbying for a long time about the labelling. Just a few months ago it was announced that there would be changes so that Canadian honey would be just that! Imagine having to fight for a label that would be what it said it was!!!

I had brought a couple honey supers, a smoker, veil and hat to show them but the talk was so active that I never even got to doing a demonstration.

It was a really fun time and I hope the ladies enjoyed the talk. At the end I was totally surprised when they presented me with a gift bag with lovely bath items, wall tiles (one pictued above) and a thank you card.

I then thanked them and told them I had to skedaddle. I was heading out to my bee yard that afternoon to check on my hives.... my one week first hive inspection was due.

And on the way home I realized that my camera was still in my pocket. I had forgotten to take a photo!
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