As secretary of the local association I was asked to coordinate the club’s attendance at two local events in June. They both fell on the same weekend, so it made a long weekend for me! It was an immersion experience.
This event was held previously in April on Earth day. April around here can be cool and rainy. The event works much better in June, when it is warmer, although it still can be rainy. The site is beautiful, the Stillwaters Environmental Center, with its lovely grounds and peaceful atmosphere.
Ted came out all day, and first year beekeeper Frank showed up for most of the day too, and brought a package box to show off. Frank held down the Langstroth side of the table, and Ted and I talked top bar and foundationless to possibly the best crowd for that idea.
Our mentor George showed up to attend the event and gave me a couple of boxes with queens in them, and told me to keep them alive for the weekend. An assignment! It was nice to have a queen to show the kids, since the bar we brought to display didn’t have one. If we’d brought the queen from that hive they would have had a new one baking by the time we got home!
One of the queens had no attendants and died pretty quickly, so I pulled her from the display. The other queen had three attendants. George told me to give them honey. Since I had Stedman’s honey at the display for people to taste, I just put a drop on the queen cage. It was really cool to see the attendants take the honey up.
Kitsap Maker Faire
Same display, second day. This time I was on my own to set up and break down. In the middle a bunch of people took shifts, including club president TJ. I’d never been to the faire before. It was awesome! We were outside next to the fruit club – since I’m also a member of that club I got to chat with Mike and Jean all day. Most of the crafts people were outside, including the spinners and knitters.
When TJ showed up he kicked me out and sent me off to look at the fair. Kids could take rides on a hand-pumped wagon, or fire off a model rocket, or steer radio controlled boats in a big portable pool. But wait, there’s more! Inside there was…the Arduino room! These people (women and men both) had quite a few devices, including one walking-around-the-room robot! I didn’t get a very good picture of it, since adults were always clustering around it taking pictures, and kids running around it in delight.
Ted had put the queen in the bottom of one of the top bar hives all night to keep her alive. One of the attendants died, giving every kid at the fair the chance to show me the dead bee. The event happened to fall on queen rearing day, so when I closed the display, I drove quickly down to Stedman’s. Dave was still there, so I proudly handed him the still-alive queen in her cage. Mission accomplished!
These events are so much fun. I’m just a second year beekeeper, and Frank is first year, so you might not think we had enough knowledge yet, but it turns out that newbies are perfect for these events. We answer entry-level questions with just more than entry-level answers. We also have that glow of newness and the excitement of having bees! Our own bees! Also we have the energy of doing our first events. Unlike TJ, who did all the events last year, or a 20 year beekeeper who really has done it all and answers much more complicated questions.
I’m especially proud to show off top bar and foundationless beekeeping. I run into a lot of natural beekeepers at these events who don’t show up to the club because they fear (or have experienced) disapproval from conventional beekeepers. I get to be the friendly face encouraging them to come out – natural beekeepers are welcome in the association too!
Every beekeeper I know is always learning, and pretty much always teaching, too.