Beekeeping has many benefits. It’s good for your garden and environment, you get fresh, sweet, honey, and you can even profit from it. But one of my favorite things about beekeeping is that it’s a family hobby. Beekeeping is something that the whole family can enjoy – including kids! Here are 5 reasons why you should involve your kids in beekeeping.
Benefits of Beekeeping With Kids
Get Kids Out in Nature
Nowadays with kids being in front of screens more often than not, beekeeping offers a good excuse to get kids out in nature. As a parent, there’s nothing quite like being out in the natural world, sharing precious time with your children.
Nature is just fascinating to kids. It’s a place where their imagination can run wild and they can get their hands and feet dirty. There’s no doubt that children would find an encounter with bees truly amazing!
Teach Kids Science
As you may already know, there is science to the way that the honey bee colony functions. From how bees shape honeycomb, to how they make honey, and the different types of bees – all are great learning opportunities for kids! And there is no better lesson than to let them see it up close and personal. Teaching kids the science and art of beekeeping would no doubt be an unforgettable science lesson.
Conquer Their Fears
Bees can be a bit intimidating, even to adults. So don’t be surprised if getting close to a colony of 60,000 bees is a little scary for kids. However, with proper guidance and safety precautions, beekeeping is a great opportunity for kids to conquer their fears. Nothing gives a boost of confidence like knowing that you faced your fear and overcame it.
Of course, is your child is truly afraid you should not push them. Instead you can teach them about bees from afar, show them the protective equipment, and take them out the hives when they are ready.
Learn to Work Together
Bees are eusocial insects. That means that different groups of bees have different jobs. They must work together in order to survive. Teaching kids about the different roles of honey bees and how they all work together is a great learning experience for them.
Furthermore, you can also teach them about how working together while beekeeping is beneficial. For example, one person can hold the frame, while the other can inspect brood. Keep it simple and keep it fun.
Give Them a Sense of Responsibility
Much like caring for a pet, beekeeping can give children a sense of responsibility. Depending on their age, they can be responsible for simple tasks, such as holding the hive tool, and work their way up to more complicated duties.
Having a sense of responsibility can have a great effect on kids of any age. This positive behavior can even cross over into school as well. Beekeeping will give kids something to feel proud about.
Tips for Beekeeping With Kids
When beekeeping with kids, safety is very important. Always have them wear the proper protective clothing when around bees. That includes a bee suit, veil, gloves, and covered shoes. Before going out to the hives, prepare your child for the experience by teaching them to stay calm and use slow movements.
Prepare for Stings
In the event that your child does get stung by a bee, keep a liquid antihistamine on hand in case of a reaction. Watch carefully for signs of an allergic reaction, which include fainting, dizziness, hives and itching, swelling of the throat, and vomiting. These are all quite serious and would require emergency treatment.
Get a Child Bee Suit
For maximum comfort and protection, get a child sized bee suit. A bee suit that is tailored for children will allow them to move around better and overall have a more enjoyable experience. You want a suit that is slightly loose and made of durable material. If you live in a hotter climate, opt for a ventilated bee suit.
Assign Age Appropriate Jobs
Before going out to the apiary, you can talk to your child about different jobs needed in the bee yard. While younger children would do well just observing, older children can be assigned simple jobs to get a more hands on experience. An example of some jobs are:
- Brushing bees with bee brush
- Holding the smoker
- Pouring sugar syrup into feeder
- Inspecting for mites
- Using the hive tool to loosen frames
- Uncapping honey
- Helping to extract honey
Bee Books for Kids
A great way for younger children to prepare for their beekeeping experience is to read bee books. Doing so will teach them about how bees function and get them excited to see them for themselves.
National Geographic for kids is highly recommended for obvious reasons. The book is chock full of interesting facts presented in a way that is easy for kids to understand. Each page features beautiful full color pictures, graphics, and even quick quizzes. The age range for this book is 5 – 8 years, but I think even younger children would enjoy looking at the photos.
This peek through picture book features peek a boo holes throughout the book that kids are certain to love. Throughout each page they will see a day in the life of a bee while learning about the relationship between bees and plants.
This book is recommended for children aged 5 – 7 who are beginning to read on their own. It is a great book for them to learn about bees while also practicing their reading skills. Amazing Bees is full of cool facts and photos that would interest any child.
The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner is a wonderful book that teaches kids about the secret life of bees. Everything from types of bees, pollination, making honey, and anatomy is included in this book. I really like the colorful artwork and charts which makes learning about bees easy and fun.
Beekeeping with kids is a fun activity with many benefits for both of you. When introducing a child to beekeeping remember to be safe and have fun!