ARTICLE: Young beekeeper enjoys honey, helps tend hives and isn’t afraid of being stung
Through his white beekeeper’s veil, 8-year-old Sam Shapiro looks down at the delicate black and yellow worker bee that just landed on his chest. “She won’t hurt me,” Sam says. “A lot of kids go psycho when a bee gets near them. But if I just stand still, she’ll think I’m a statue.” Wearing a veil when working with bees is like wearing a helmet when riding your bike… According to Sam, bees make great pets. They are fun to take care of, and they make food for their owners.
Sam has spent his entire life with bees in his family. When he was 2, he would stand at the window and watch his dad (experienced urban beekeeper Milt Shapiro) checking the hives in the side yard of their home in Northwest Washington. When he was 3, he and his dad would sit outside in the summer, admiring the worker bees as they delivered pollen (carried on their back legs “like little puff balls,” Sam says) to the hive…
Each summer, Sam and his dad harvest the honey. “When my dad takes a comb out of the hive,” the Lafayette Elementary third-grader says, “it’s covered with honey. You don’t want to put it on the ground because leaves would stick to it, so my job is to hold it.”
Next, they squeeze the comb into a clean bucket where it will drip honey through a filter for a few days. “The honey drips so slowly,” Sam says, “but you don’t want to waste a drop. It’s worth something even better than money.”
It smells good, too — like standing in a field of freshly cut hay on a bright, breezy summer day.
Finally, Sam and his father open the spout at the bottom of the bucket and pour the honey into glass jars. “I can just feel the honey dripping off my hand,” Sam says. “It’s sticky, and I lick every bit off my fingers. It tastes like heaven.” Later on, he enjoys his heavenly treat by the spoonful, on bread and in gooey sandwiches with peanut butter.
Questions for HoneyLove from the 2nd graders at Wildwood School in Mar Vista:
Are pesticides bad for bees?
How long does a queen bee live?
How do you raise a baby bee?
Why do bees buzz?
What do bees eat?
What is their life-cycle?
Do they go through metamorphosis?
Why are the bees dying?
How are the bees dying?
How do bees make their hives?
How long do bees live?
How do you take a bee out of a yard?
What tools do you use?
How do you keep them from running away?
How do you know if they are your bees?
Why are people killing bees?
How do bees make honey?
What types of bees sting?
What eats bees?
What time of the day do bees go to work?
Where are beehives located?
If the beekeepers have questions, who do they ask?
Do all bees really die if they sting you?
How do beekeepers keep from getting stung?
How fast do bee wings move?
How many types of bees are there?
Who is their enemy?
Does every bee have a hive?
Is there a king bee?
What plants do bees like most?
How big can bees get?
How many bees can there be in one hive?
What do you do if a bee stings you?
How much nectar can one bee collect?
Why do you use a steamer?
Who makes baby bees?
What’s your favorite kind of honey?
What’s your favorite kind of bee?
and my favorite…
Why do bees have fuzzy tummies?
“THE BEEKEEPER” – experimental documentary by Richard Robinson
“…but whatever the intended metaphor for taking bees into space, one thing is clear – when the minors used the canaries to test the mines for methane gas… they knew that if the canaries died, the mines weren’t safe to go in – so they would stay home and not go into the mines. But the bees as the new canaries in the coal mine…things are a little be different. We don’t have the option that the coal miners did. The coal mine is now the whole planet and there’s no where else to go.”
“Lots of people talk to animals,” said Pooh.
“Not that many listen though.”
“That’s the problem.”
-The Tao of Pooh
The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.
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