Honeyscribe Bee Workshops - the art of pollination
In recent years significant honeybee losses have accelerated to severely threaten honeybee populations worldwide. The same story is echoed in wild pollinating insect populations, who play an equally crucial role in food production and maintaining wildflower biodiversity. Due to this salutary fact, there is an urgent need for children to understand what an indispensable task our pollinators perform. Honeyscribe workshops aim to inform children about the impact the decline in pollinating insects might have for both environmental and human health, and offer them strategic and practical ways to be engaged in counteracting the threats to their health with positive actions, however small.
In April 2012, Clare Densley (Head of Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey) and I piloted a series of highly successful Honeyscribe Bee Workshops taking place at the famous Honeybee HQ at Buckfast Abbey, to raise awareness about the plight of the beautiful honeybee.
The Honeyscribe Bee Workshops offer school children and their teachers a unique opportunity to spend a day immersed in the honey-scented world of the honeybee.
Honeyscribe Bee Workshops provide children with the rare chance to put on a bee suit and observe a beehive first hand.
This close-up experience is crucial to guide children towards understanding the critical and complex roles that our managed pollinators (such as the honeybees kept by the Beekeepers at Buckfast Abbey) and wild pollinators (bumblebees, hover flies, solitary bees and butterflies) play in the ecosystem. Through first hand observation, children witness the worker bees returning to the hive with the brightly coloured pollen loads they have collected from the flowers growing around the vicinity of the hive. They also learn about 'waggle dancing', the extraordinarily accurate communication system that honeybees use in transmitting the direction and distance of the floral sources of pollen and nectar to the rest of the colony.
When watching bees, a subtle series of connections with the landscape and environment begins. The flora of the surrounding area providing the food for the Buckfast bees consists of wild and cultivated plants, agricultural crops from nearby farmland as well as trees and hedgerows. Part of the day involves a guided walk around the formal gardens at the Abbey as well as into the wild woodlands adjacent to the grounds with Clare and I. During these walks the floral sources of the pollen loads and nectar the children have seen encrypted in the honeycombs are revealed, enabling the children to connect what they have seen happening inside the luminous world of the beehive to the bio-diversity of plants in the environment in a very direct way.
After this immersion into the world of the beehive, the children work with me in creating their own artworks inspired by the bees. Children are encouraged to explore products relating to the beehive throughout the day (such as beeswax, propolis and honey) and many of them choose to include these materials in their artworks.
Bees and honey have long inspired the human imagination and play an important role in the evolution of thousands of myths, social traditions and complex rituals. This ancient fascination is chronicled in the vast and rich vein of bee mythology and literature, and engraved and manifested in the art, architecture, and archeology as far back as the most ancient civilizations on earth. These artistic hymns to the honeybee are testimony to how profoundly important the bee is in the story of how we connect to the natural world, and how important this connection is to human well-being. To witness the gentle order of the world within a beehive, and to be given the opportunity to directly observe the unique relationship between pollinators and flowering plants which has been evolving for over 100 million years, has had a profound effect on many of the children who attend this workshop. Honeyscribe Bee Workshops have been specifically designed to tap into this ancient fascination we have with bees, and the innate need we seem to have to connect with nature. Honeyscribe Bee Workshops aim to re-ignite the necessary understanding we must have to protect our keystone species, and recognize the crucial role they play in sustaining the world's ecosystems.
'The whole day was exceptionally well-organised and thought out - paced and pitched at exactly the right level.' Teacher, Newtown Primary.
'What an incredible experience – the children loved it.'Teacher, St Mary's Catholic Primary Feedback from participants aged 8, 9 and 10
'My favorite part of the day was when lots of bees flew on me in my bee suit. I think one was sleeping on me.'
'When we lifted the lids off the hives, it was like it was snowing bees. I have never seen a hive like that before.'
'In the art workshop I drew loads of bees coming out of a beehive, and I then covered the drawing with a layer of hot melted beeswax. I was inspired by all the bees I had seen earlier in the day.'
'Well, before I went to see the fascinating bees I was really scared of them, but now I am not'.
'I've learnt loads about bees, and I feel really happy about going to the bees and being next to them'.
For more Information about workshops please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org