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CES enjoy beekeeping activities at conference

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Clanton Elementary School second-grade students were abuzz with excitement as they attended the Alabama Beekeepers Association conference on the morning of Sept. 20.

A series of stations had been set up with activities and presentations for the students to enjoy and learn more about honey bees.

Students participated in crafts, such as making a beeswax candle, learned to identify a queen bee in a hive behind glass, practiced the dance of the bees and tried on a beekeeper’s outfit.

David and Lynne Kelton of Gadsden had been in charge of the student program for American Bee Federation event and wanted to bring the event to the state convention.

“There are 12 stations set up and each one has a different aspect of beekeeping,” David Kelton said. “Anything from keeping live bees in a hive to making candles to beekeepers in other countries.”

Students were also able to taste honey at one of the stations.

A 13th station gave students a chance to reflect and write a little about something they learned.

“I learned about the queen bee makes eggs and then when the babies are done born, then I learned that when they are ready to leave they will go,” student Timorian Simon said.

He said getting a bee painted on his cheek was his favorite activity of the day.

Student Kayle Castleberry said this was also her favorite activity. She also enjoyed getting to see the bees in the hive.

“Making the bees out of paper” was her favorite activity, student Zosie Ray said.

She said she learned “the nurse bee takes care of the baby bee until they are older, and then they become something.”

Ray also said she learned about the queen bee flying.

David Kelton said he hopes the event will get the students interested in becoming beekeeper when they are older.

“I used to keep bees … when I was 13 years old,” Kelton said. “I was beekeeping in Boy Scouts for the beekeeper merit badge. We still teach a beekeeping class every year.”

Lynne Kelton said the program is offered on a yearly basis at the American Bee Federation Convention.

She said she and David had volunteered to help out with the program at the convention.

“I loved it because if we don’t teach kids about bees now they are not going to know about honey bees — this is the future,” Lynne Kelton said.

When the Keltons came to the Alabama Association with the idea of adding it to the state conference, “they loved it,” Lynne Kelton said.

“I love teaching kids about bees because most people that aren’t beekeepers don’t know anything about honey bees, so this is a way to interact with the kids and teach them about honey bees,” Lynne Kelton said.

She said she hopes that the students leave with a knowledge “of the importance of the honey bees to our everyday life.”

At the station where students learned about the movements bees use to communicate, a volunteer led students in the dancelike movements of a scout before demonstrating what the other bees would do.

“I think it is a great opportunity for them (my students) to see the importance of honey bees to our environment because most people even some adults, don’t realize what good honey bee,” teacher Kaitlyn Seaton said.

She said it also gave students a chance to learn about the foods that depend on honey bees.

The presentation connected to what students had been studying about honey bees, pollination and insects in the classroom.

“It helps them to have a hands-on experience,” Seaton said.

While the students were enjoying learning about queen bees, so were adult attendees to one of the first morning sessions.

Clarence Collison, department head emeritus of entomology and plant pathology at Mississippi State University, talked to attendees about challenges to having a healthy hive and queen bee as well as causes to these issues.

The event featured a number of knowledgeable speakers over the two-day conference at the Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center.