[NOTE TO MYBROWNBABY READERS: I've invited the good folks of I (HEART) FACES to critique my photos and give me constructive feedback on how I could have made my pictures even better. Specifically, I'd love to know what I could have done to make the picture of my daughter, Lila (holding the honeycomb out in front of her) more crisp. I use the standard photo editing tools on my Mac; I do not have Photoshop (though I'm working on this. Okay--have at it!)
Sometimes we go great lengths to give our kids enriching experiences—we take them to museums, put them in the front pew at church, pay hundreds of dollars for summer science and art camps, all with the hope that each moment will create memories, expand minds, and make fuller, more rounded little people. But what we don’t realize is that sometimes, the most valuable lessons are literally right outside the front door.
That’s what we found this past spring break when we visited my Dad in Virginia. My cousin, who’d just purchased the fixer-upper across the street from my Dad’s house, invited me, Nick, and the girls over to his new place to watch as two bee keepers extracted a massive bee’s nest from a back porch wall—a front row seat to check out the secret life of bees. We were standing only about a foot or so away from the action, peering through a large glass pane door overlooking the porch, and when the bee keeper pulled back that first chunk of sheetrock, we were literally shocked and amazed by what we saw: A massive honeycomb that ran both the length and width of the wall, teeming with Italian bees.
What an incredible sight to see!
The funny thing is that we look at bees as such a threat (I had my first run-in with the pointy side of a bee while I was driving; that sucker stung me right in the neck—hurt so bad I almost drove off the doggone road!), but we watched that entire extraction standing only a few feet away from hundreds of bees, and they had no interest in attacking us. They were more concerned about tending to their home—and certainly protecting their beloved queen bee.
As much as I shudder when I remember the great pain I felt from that bee sting and as scared as my girls are of getting stung, both they and I were amazed by the miracle those bees created in the wall, and impressed by the bee keepers, who very carefully took the bees, the queen, and some of the honeycomb and put them into special bee boxes, where they were going to make their new home—and lots of the sweet, sticky honey.
Later, Mari, Lila, and I got on the internet to learn more about the little miracles makers. One of my favorite stores, Anthropologie, just happened to be doing an Earth Day homage to the honey bee, and had this to say about their importance:
…these hardworking insects are responsible for pollinating more than 100 crops nationwide—or in other words, $15 billion worth of U.S. agriculture.
Sadly, in recent years, beekeepers have lost more than one-third of their bees to a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which bees mysteriously abandon their hives and die. Pesticides, viruses, poor nutrition and cell phone signals are often cited as culprits; however, the exact cause of CCD remains uncertain. Experts agree additional research is integral to the preservation of honey bees.
The girls and I then followed a link to helpthehoneybees.com, a site, run by Häagen-Dazs, that chronicles the plight of the honey bee, tells us exactly why we should be concerned, and gives us solid ideas for how we can help the little buggers live. The site also has a fun app that lets users create their own honey bees and email them to their friends; these are Mari and Lila’s creations.
Now, rather than run away from bees, the girls actually marvel at them. I’m not sure how I feel about this—I’m still a little scared of the damage they can do to an unsuspecting neck, but I can appreciate their importance, for sure. And I’m glad my girls got a great lesson—beautiful, informative, memorable, and free of charge!
MyBrownBaby wants to remind you that though tomorrow is officially Earth Day, it's important to celebrate our Earth and all it has to offer every day by recycling, reusing, reducing, and teaching our babies to be stewards of our beautiful planet.