I remember sitting on my mom’s couch and having the whole family tell me that the documentary I was watching was boring and weird. But to me, this was an edge-of-my-seat exploration of one of the coolest hobbies that exists: keeping bees. I learned about colony collapse disorder, climate change, pollination, and of course honey (sweet, sweet honey). From that day on, I sometimes snuck in time to do internet research about beekeeping, look at beekeeping blogs, and just be generally nerdy about the whole thing. Unfortunately, at the time I was deep into my biology studies and had little extra time to devote to learning beekeeping. I told one of my professors how interesting I thought bees were and how I would want to become a beekeeper in the future. A few weeks later, he called me to his office to give me a gift… it was the most beautiful beekeeping calendar with up-close shots of bees and honey comb. This calendar went up above my desk to help me get through my immunology and microbiology studies, but beekeeping would have to wait until I had time for a hobby.
Fast forward a year to the first few weeks in the Environmental Education Master’s program here at SOU. A beautiful, wonderful member of last year’s cohort met me for coffee and to share about her year-long internship experience…..with a Beekeeper! She didn’t just learn about beekeeping, she had the chance to learn about non-profit business and to be active in the conservation of bees and their habitat. The amazing organization she works with is called Bee Girl (http://www.beegirl.org/). Bee Girl specializes in beekeeping education and honeybee conservation and has a mission to “inspire and empower communities to conserve bees and their habitat”. I was lucky enough to meet Sarah Red-Laird, the founder and executive director of the Bee Girl organization and she invited me to be a part of the Bee Girl team as an intern for the 2014-2015 school year. Can you guess what I said?
My life will never be the same. What inspires me? The smell of wax and honey on a warm day, the buzz of fifty-thousand bees, the tickle of their hairy little legs when the land on me, and don’t forget the taste of fresh honeycomb straight from the hive. The honey bee is one of the most remarkable creatures on the planet and they have a big job to do! Bees pollinate many of the plants that are important to wildlife and to humans. Through their pollination services, bees are directly responsible for 30 percent of our diet. They are so important and amazing. I feel blessed to be a part of the beekeeping community and to have the opportunity, through Bee Girl, to be educating the public about the issues faced by my fuzzy little friends.
What does my beekeeping have to do with my studies in environmental education? Not only do I get a chance to keep bees and be involved with some of the most important pollinators on the planet; I am also working with children, adults, community groups and new beekeepers. I am educating the public on important environmental issues such as habitat conservation, sustainable farming, and local beekeeping. I have discovered that I can combine my passion for environmental education and my love of bees into something that makes me happy. Maybe beekeeping is meant to be my hobby. Or maybe in the future as a classroom teacher, I will be able to use this experience and to expose my students to new and interesting ideas. Who knows, I might even end up with bees in a school garden similar to what they have done at Ruch K-8 school (http://www.ruchschool.org/) . I’m happy and I love what I spend my time doing. Anyone can do this. If you love hiking, farming, the ocean, art, birding, geology, goats, kittens… (I don’t care what you love just as long as you embrace it) then work hard to find out where it fits into your life. If it makes you happy, then make it more than just a beautiful calendar on the wall.