A Curious Beekeeper Goes to the Fair

I suppose it is only fair that the Bee Club tent with an observation hive was a bit hard to find. It was next to the 4-H tent and next to where the cattle got washed down before they were exhibited. Though it wasn’t that far from the food when I went to get a lemonade. We got to see all the cattle go by on their way to the exhibition ring.

People found the club. They looked for the queen in the observation hive (presuming she was there as she was small and probably went through the queen excluder to hide) and bought honey sticks. There was a pair of scissors for those that couldn’t wait to enjoy their purchased sweet and the scissors were really sticky by the end of the day. Those honey sticks were as full of honey as they could be.

It seemed as if all the visitors to the booth had to tell us how they were stung by a bee when they were little and how either they or their mother (or Grandma) was deathly allergic to bee stings, having to carry an Epi-Pen when outside. The whole story, every time. No one was ever stung by a Yellow Jacket nor did anything to deserve the sting. One person owned up to being stung while walking bare foot through clover; that very well could have been a Honey bee (maybe a Bumble) that did the stinging.

There were a fair number of people interested in keeping bees themselves, and we signed them up to be notified when bee school starts taking registrations. “There are no bees pollinating my garden,” said one, while for another it was fruit trees. “I guess if we want ‘em, we need to keep ‘em.” We had a few visits from out of state beekeepers that were fun. Guess what, they’re dealing with Varroa too!

The ones that knew the most about Honey bees and bees in general were kids. I’m not sure just who has been training them, but they knew that Honey bees were not native to the US, and that HBs died when they stung you. Their parents, on the other hand, didn’t know much but were willing to learn, as long as Junior was entertained. Our goto factoid was how Honey bee stings are barbed whereas wasp stings are smooth. Conveniently a wasp chose to hang around the observation hive. A mud dauber too.

I hope the club got lots of people to sign up to get information on Bee School. The setup was good. We had a tent, and posters, books, drawn frames of different sizes, an empty Langstroth hive, beekeeping paraphernalia (hive tool, smoker, etc.). Even a skep.

The only thing lacking – and I don’t want to be too critical of the club as it wasn’t long ago that there wasn’t a bee exhibit at the Blue Hill Fair – is an overall communications mission. What people who visited the exhibit got was Honey bees are cool, we need more Honey bees, wouldn’t you like to keep Honey bees? Cool enough though predictable.

Probably a communications mission is a few years away. The club was continuing to recruit volunteers today. Definitely having enough volunteers comes first.

This was the fair of Charlotte’s Web; (author E.B. White being a nearby summer resident) If the fair could have “some pig” spelled out in a barn spider web (there was a Zuckerman’s petting zoo), than the club could have had a stated objective… Something like, we want you to keep Honey bees, if the time isn’t right for you to keep bees, here’s what you can do to help Honey bees and pollinators in general.

I know I can be impatient. And while it was nice to take my turn, I was glad to be back in the bees today, even though they sensed a thunder storm looming and very quickly let me know they didn’t appreciate having their roof removed and their house torn apart.

This is fun, right?

Andrew Dewey