Kutztown Community Library was buzzing with activity on June 19.
Kutztown University history students Shelby Schwoyer and Carolyn Wasser, a library clerk helping with the summer reading program Fizz, Boom, Read, presented “Brilliant, Buzzing Bees.”
“We’re teaching that they’re not all scary. (Bees) get a bad rap because they sting,” said Schwoyer, wearing a bumble bee costume.
“If we didn’t have bees, we wouldn’t have honey, we wouldn’t have fruit and we wouldn’t have some of the things they really enjoy. Just teaching them (bees are) not a scary thing, (bees are) really something that’s really helpful,” said Wasser, wearing a bee keeper suit.
While teaching about bees, their goal was to engage and interact with the children, asking questions and presenting photos, videos, a bee song and dance. For example, participants were encouraged to identify a queen bee, drone and worker bee in a large photo on the overhead screen.
Wasser also conducted a flight experiment with youth librarian Joy Newswanger who also lead children in a bee making craft.
Noah Parish, 7, Fleetwood, and Tommy Corbin, 9, New Jerusalem, created their own flight experiments and raced one another, as well as tried on the bee keeping suit.
“I like the science focus and it’s fun to see real bees,” said Corbin’s mother, Anne. “They get to see practical science. Science isn’t something that’s just in a book, it’s real. It’s good to see other people do it and it’s not just a subject in school.”
Sharon Weigle, Kutztown, brought her granddaughters Sadie,7, and Marisa Berger, 9, liking that “they learn something about nature and bees.”
Marisa “liked how they put on the bee suit, that was funny. I also liked the craft,” said Marisa who was happy to find the queen bee in the hive. “I thought it was cool (seeing a real bee hive).”
Weigle said the summer reading program is great for kids. “It gives them something to do and gets kids to learn to read and learn different facts about nature.”
Professional beekeeper and Kutztown University biology professor Robyn Underwood, Kutztown resident, brought her live bee hive and beekeeper suit, answering questions about bees while attendees looked at the hive.
“We’re trying to get the students to read over the summer and this year’s theme is science,” said Underwood, noting that library staff wanted to present a program on bees. “That’s something I love to do, is teach people about bees.”
She hopes children at the program learn that honey bees affect their lives in a good way by pollinating plants and making a lot of the food they eat.
Underwood is working with the “Brilliant, Buzzing Bees” presenters Schwoyer and Wasser, KU history students who are conducting an independent study on the history of bee keeping.
“I’m teaching them about bee keeping and they are learning about the history of bee keeping in Pennsylvania,” said Underwood. “It goes well to teach history and biology together. That’s really exciting to me.”
Underwood has bee hives at a friend’s home and recently added a hive at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center. Schwoyer and Wasser are helping to ensure the hive is historically accurate to bee keeping in the 1850s.
“The transformation of bee keeping and the historical significance is what I find most interesting,” said Schwoyer. “The folklore is also interesting.”
What Wasser finds interesting is sophisticated a bee hive is from the hives’s construction to the bee roles within the hive.
What Underwood loves about teaching about bees is that people get so excited. “People really seem to be interested in bees.”
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