The Daily Dirt

These Junior Beekeepers are the Bee’s Knees

Junior BeekeepersThere isn’t anything lazy about Lazy B Farm! This farm produces meat, runs apiaries, and functions as a hands-on classroom. The owner, Cindi Ball, hosts classes on soap making, honey harvesting and bee keeping.

To see some of the classes she has lined up for this summer, go to her website. But her classes aren’t only for adults- some of her most recent graduates are as young as seven years old! If they can do do it, what are you waiting for?

Why is it so important for young kids to learn about beekeeping?
Beekeeping is becoming a lost art and we are losing our hobby beekeepers.  Georgia is the number one state for allergies and honey has been proven to be a major factor in allaying the symptoms of those allergies.  But it needs to be raw local honey – local being with in 50 miles.  It’s tough for people suffering from allergies to find local honey because we don’t have enough beekeepers.
I love teaching children beekeeping for several reasons:
a. They don’t come with the fears and preconceived ideas about bees that a lot of adults do.
b. They are eager to learn.
c. I love watching their respect for this insect rise as they come to understand the true value of beekeeping.
d.  This is a great way for them to start a cottage industry and start saving money for a car or college tuition.
e.  It’s just super cool to say you play with honeybees and are a beekeeper!

How do apiaries help agricultural health?
Apiaries are the major force behind the pollination that’s needed to make veggies and fruit grow.  It’s incredible how much we depend on honeybees without acknowledging how much they do for us.  I teach the kids that every third bite they take is due to a honey bee.

What made you interested in the “homestead farming” lifestyle?
I began true homesteading because of my 6 children.  I have no farming background and there is no farming in several generations behind me.  I am a book-taught farmer! I wanted my children, my family, to have a healthy start and life style.  It helps that I love the outdoors and I love animals and I always love to learn.  I homeschooled all 6 of my children and homesteading was just part of their curriculum.  We’ve been on our farm 11.5 years and this place has been our classroom.  Four years ago, I began teaching homestead classes to other people who also wanted to learn about homesteading.  We are an official educational homestead with monthly workshops. I’m so glad I got a degree in education!

BeekeepersWhat do the Junior Beekeepers learn to pass the beekeeping test?
I formulated our Junior Beekeeping Certification after the adult program, which we also teach here at the farm.  My Junior students have to test just like the adults do.  They are required to light a smoker (and for the very young ones, they have to tell me all the steps while I do what they say) and they must explain why a smoker calms the bees. They must get into their bee suits without any assistance, which is very important when dealing with 11 kids! They are required to open a hive by themselves using a hive tool correctly, take out a frame and identify a worker bee, a drone, capped honey, pollen, capped brood, and larva. They must also take a written exam (oral for the young ones) and identify parts of the hive and parts of the bee and flower.

This was our second year and all our students have passed who have taken the exam!  We do mostly hands on work during the 20-hour course and a lot of drilling.

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