Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Organics by Gosh
Silver SponsorsAustin EcoNetwork
PMB Helin Donovan
Brown Distributing Company
Randalls Food Market
Texas Disposal Systems
Supporting SponsorsBiggs Electric LLC
Noodles & Co
Star Nine Ventures
Austin Resource Recovery
Austin Watershed Protection Department
Keep Austin Beautiful
55 North IH-35, Ste 215
Austin, Texas, 78702
Green Teens: November 15, 2011 Central Texas Bee Rescue
Mon, 12/19/2011 - 15:29 — KAB
When a couple of Green Teens students were sent running from a butterfly visiting their garden last year, the educators at KAB knew they had to bring in local Austin experts to show just how amazing - not terrifying - our pollinator friends can be. Enter in Central Texas Bee Rescue! Tina, Walter, and their energetic young son are bee enthusiasts who rescue hives built in inconvenient spots while teaching people the benefits of these incredible insects.
Green Teens from Eastside Memorial, LBJ, Martin, and Fulmore got a rare chance to explore honey bees in action. Whether their visits included smelling the lemon scented pheromone put out by a queen bee or using beeswax to make lip balm, Tina and Walter did a great job describing the often gentle nature and usefulness of bees. The class began with an informative presentation where students and KAB instructors learned how bees give fruits their flavor, much of commercially sold honey has lactose products instead of pollen, and beekeeping is a multi-billion dollar industry! Students got hands on learning time when they made a traditional Langstroth hive, dressed in bee suits, created homemade bee balm, and observed when bees are irritated and calm. A particularly fond moment was being able to eat honey right from the wax! Many students chewed the wax like gum after the honey was all gone.
In the end, science helped the student’s understand why they need not be so jumpy around members of the Apidae family. Unlike wasps that can sting repeatedly, honey bees die after they sting because the sting removes a part of their abdomen. Unless you are disturbing a hive, threatening the queen, or dealing with a particularly aggressive species, most bees will buzz right by you on their way to the nearest nectar source.
It was quickly discovered that a great way to get students interested in bees was to describe the structure of a colonizing insect and the roles each individual plays. The Teens were amazed to discover just how much power the queen has over her sterile female workers and male drones. While the workers create the queen using a chemical mixture called “royal jelly”, once she is an adult she rules the hive – laying over 1,000 eggs a day and constantly being followed and fawned over by her dedicated colony. To indicate just how powerful she is, Tina shared a picture of a man covered head to toe with bees and explained how he rubbed synthetic queen pheromone on him to prevent being stung.
Unlike Europe, where it’s common to keep your own beehive, honey bee populations are rapidly declining because people often kill hives on their property and mass manufactured hives are not sustainable to the local environments. Add in diseases or mite infestations and honey bees are in trouble. Tina and Walter rescue hives from properties around Austin and raise them for honey to help their cause. Local Austinites and farmers should be thankful – bees pollinate the fruits and vegetables we love. In fact, the Central Texas Bee Rescue sets up hives at schools and provides the equipment and training to introduce students to the art of beekeeping.
What the Green Teens got to see is unfortunately something most people don’t. A quick sneak peek into the life and benefits of honey bees often is enough to undo misconceptions. You can help Central Texas Bee Rescue and their mission by visiting their website to donate or by volunteering while learning how to keep bees.
A big thank you to Central Texas Bee Rescue!
This spring, students will be tending their native habitat gardens while welcoming native pollinators and other local wildlife onto their schoolyard. Stay tuned in to the wonderful ways our Green Teens are helping to keep Austin beautiful by following our blog and the Green Teens website!