Our local 4-H junior beekeepers recently met with their mentor (and Gilroy Beekeepers Association member) Mike Stang. They wanted to share their experience learning about honey bees and how to be a good beekeeper.

In the words of their 4-H adult sponsor, Sara Cutrignelli:

"The goal is to have our project beekeepers learn hands on. I want the kids to get excited about beekeeping without cost to them. Many projects can have an age limit associated with them as well, but mine does not. Our kids’ ages range from 5 years old to 16. For some, this is their first time in 4-H, and I am lucky that they chose beekeeping as one of their first projects as a 4-H member."

"Our project has 4 hives that we would like to fill with bees. These hives belong to our project. The kids have painted them, and we will finally be able to set them up now that the weather is better. From day one of our first meeting, the young beekeepers have had hands on learning. Having colonized hives of their own will allow them to see the difference in how bees live, thrive and take care of their own “houses.” These bees would be our starter hives, as we are also hoping to learn more about splitting hives and practicing with our own bees in the future. This would be our ultimate goal to be able to produce our own hives by using what we would already have, similar to what Arthur Kubogamell taught us at the March GBA meeting. That would be amazing to show the kids that we can help Mother Nature, and how beekeeping can be cost efficient and rewarding. The honey that is extracted will be bottled and sold by the kids and will benefit our project for its future. The money raised will be used for purchasing any additional equipment, bottling supplies, and future bee packages if needed. The kids will also enter their honey at the county fair as a competitive exhibit.

Our project meets monthly. We have been extremely fortunate to have Mike Stang mentor us and attend our meetings. Thus far we have looked in active hives, set up 2 nucs, learned about the bee life cycle, bee jobs in the hives, importance of order in the hives and the queen. We have been exploring the many uses that the bees and their hives as a whole have to offer. The kids have learned the natural remedies of propolis. At one meeting Kathleen Stang taught the kids how to make rolled wax candles, and we made Christmas ornaments out of beeswax. And some of our beekeepers attended the bee swarm catching class put on by the GBA, of which they thought was pretty cool. These fun activities opened their eyes of just how exciting, helpful and useful everything about the bees is."

"Thus far, we have been fortunate to have the kindness of other beekeepers donate equipment and hive boxes, and of the GBA for the use of the youth bee suits, gloves and the informational hive boxes. Our beekeepers would also like to demonstrate their knowledge by volunteering in the bee hut during the Santa Clara County Fair. Our young beekeepers are our future, and they are excited. Thank you for considering donating bee packages to our San Martin 4-H Beekeeping Project."

Sara Cutrignelli
San Martin 4-H Beekeeping Project Leader

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