A BUG filled weekend it was! This past weekend at the El Paso Zoo was Bugfest.
At the zoo, there was a chance to learn about insects, see lots of live insects (my favorite the Emperor Scorpion), play insect games, view animals that eat bugs, enjoy a bug cooking demonstration, try your own chocolate-Chirp-cookies and other insect treats, and make your own bugs with recycled materials!! I was in charge of the insect crafts made of recycled materials and it was a hit. Although what child doesn’t like arts and crafts? I collected egg cartons from anyone that would give them to me as well as used toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls that the zoo already had, and the kids and I turned them into caterpillars, spiders, butterflies and bumble bees! I wish I had taken some pictures but I guess I was busy because I ended up with no pictures of the cute creations. The moral of the story = re-use your materials at home and let your kids be creative. One child this weekend made a praying mantis out of pipe cleaners. I was thoroughly impressed. If you want to find out when these events are being held at the zoo sign up for the Zoo Education email list by clicking here.
I had some great high school students volunteer their time and help me with arts and crafts. Thank you very much to those helpful teens! I also learned some Spanish from them. I am working on my Spanish but it is coming along slowly. Most people just assume I speak Spanish, and I don’t blame them, I should! Rosetta Stone here I come!
Although we did not have any honey bees on exhibit at the zoo this weekend they were still all around us outside. I was reading a recent article that looked at the number of bees in urban areas as compared to rural. It found that many bees were in towns more due to the plant diversity among backyards and parks. At the zoo, the horticulture department does a great job creating lots of different sources of pollen for our friendly honey bees. For some reason, honey bees and bees in general catch my interest. Maybe it’s their crazy social structure, or the fact that they pollinate a third of our food supply, or that they can increase the production of agriculture crops, or that we eat their throw-up (honey), or that I fancy the new country song “Honey bee” or that they are just dang cute. Without bees we would be lacking in fruits and vegetables such as: apples, fruits, berries, almonds, melons, cucumbers, clovers and alfalfa. I don’t know about you but I could not live without fruits and vegetables!
Also it is interesting to me, that lately it seems everyone is becoming a bee keeper and enjoying the benefits in their own backyards. Honey bees are not native to the U.S. although we have grandfathered them in as belonging here. I really can’t think of another species that we have accepted with open arms like the honey bee. Honey bees are so crazy and most people don’t know much about them. For example, did you know: There are about 20,000 different species of bees. Queens can live up to 3-5 years, while others workers, drones, etc only live for a few weeks. Bees have their own dancing language. When they find a good food source or a great place for a new hive, they orient themselves to the sun and do a little dance. The stronger and more emphasis on the dance, the better the new home site or food supply is. They can travel as far as 2 miles away from their hive in search of food. I could go on and on but that is just a taste. To find out more visit some bee sites here, here or here. And of course they can be dangerous and sting although mostly they are not aggressive and harmless. Not all species die after they sting but some do. Their temperament is based on a few things:
- time of day
- how you react to them
So don’t hang out near a bee hive when it’s cold and rainy or in the dark or winter or smell bad or swat them away. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation simply walk into some brush. They don’t like that and will leave you alone. Also if you don’t have a forest to walk into (ie: you live in El Paso), break off a branch or piece of a plant and wave them away with the plant, not your hand.
So happy beekeeping to all you beekeepers and everyone else, don’t be scared of insects. If you are scared do some research to learn some more so you can appreciate what you have in your own backyard.