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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.
ARTICLE: Beekeeping: a hive of activity for the young
“’The bottom line is that understanding the bee is a way to understand nature – the pollination process and the food chain,” says Andrew Pendleton, head of the Bee Cause campaign. “Surprisingly enough, bees are flourishing in urban environments. This could be due to the lower amounts of pesticides used in cities, or the fact that bee-friendly gardens are clustered together, so bees do not need to travel as far.”
“Beekeeping is incredibly popular among the young,” he says. “At BuzzWorks we allow them to collect the honey, and dip their hand in warm wax and watch it congeal into a glove. Our observation hive has them completely absorbed, watching the steady movement of the bees and pointing out the queen. It is an opportunity for them to learn where their food comes from.”
It is important, he says, that people learn to bond with bees in their childhood. “When people become young adults, they might put beekeeping to the back of their minds,” he says. “But later, when they reach their thirties and are a bit more established, they might recall their first experiences and take it up again. That’s why providing that early exposure is so vital.”
Article by Jake Wallis Simons | Photos by MARTIN POPE
[click here to view the full article on telegraph.co.uk]
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