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Ettamarie Peterson,
and her involvement with teaching children about bees and beekeeping

Ettamarie Peterson Ettamarie heard of Sr. Catherine due to the An Beachaire article and contacted her via the internet. She is a retired teacher and now spends a lot of time volunteering in classrooms teaching about bees and has thousands of children come to visit her and her husband Ray's farm to learn about bees, mainly in October when she also sells pumpkins, but some also come in the Spring and Summer.

On a recent day she taught eight classes of 2nd and 3rd graders at their school's 'Science Day'. The children were fascinated, as always, by the observation hive.

The three most common questions "Where's the queen? How did you get the bees in there? and of course, Do you ever get stung?" Since this took place in the swarming season, she included a lot of information about swarms and what to do when you find one.

Ettamarie is enthusiastic and enjoys making this work fun for the children.

Ettamarie's observation hive

The picture is of children looking at her observation hive at the 'Earth Day' event at a Boys' and Girls' Club.

Ettamarie and her local teacher have used Sr. Catherine's 20 questions and were surprised many of the children did not know that bees have 6 legs. They all thought the buzz was from the wings flapping. One answer to the value of honey bees was 'They clean the flowers'. Generally they figured bees live for a year or more. Many knew about pollination and many stated humans were enemies of bees... how right they are! They also think bees hibernate in the hives over the winter.

The children usually described the bee's colour as yellow and black striped... No wonder they mix them up with yellow jackets (wasps).

I first met Ettamarie when she and her husband Ray, visited the Brooksby Bee Yard in 2003... Here is what she had to say about it in her Sonama County Newsletter.

Ray and Ettamarie at Brooksby Bee Yard I had a great trip to England! The second day we were there Ray and I got on the train and went up to Leicester (pronounced "Lester"). We were met at the station by two very friendly beekeepers, Brian Cramp and Dave Cushman. They took us to see the Brooksby Bee yard which is where their Leicestershire and Rutland Beekeepers Association has their headquarters. This Association was founded in 1884.

In 1998 the L&RBKA were given an old run down horse barn on a farm owned by the agricultural college. The fellows showed us a scrapbook of photos of what the place looked like then. It was obvious this group spent many hours converting the old property into a great headquarters. The building had a classroom, a workshop area and a storage area. They also have an apiary with a garden around it on a berm that separates it from the fields next to it.

The association successfully did some grant seeking to obtain funds to buy and stock a trailer to take to shows and fairs. In the trailer they have tables, chairs, a huge screened tent and lots of bee suits in various sizes. When they go to the shows, they take a hive to open up inside the tent to teach children and adults to work with bees. They actually suit up the public and take them into the tent. Dave and Brian told us they get about a hundred children a day through the hands on lesson.

With other grant money, the association bought special equipment to artificially inseminate queens. They give three levels of beekeeping courses, bee breeding and artificial insemination being the most advanced. Each level is taught over a fourteen week period. Each course is based on the appropriate British Beekeepers Association syllabus.

The apiary behind the building has several hives and posts for hanging special queen rearing boxes. The queen boxes are made there in the workshop. They are very clever with a special feeder built into them. The queens are sold at a reduced price to the members and a higher price to non-members.

In the classroom they have lots of instructional posters and a great observation hive which is kept going all year around.

We could see this is a very active association!

I met Ettamarie again at Apimondia 2005 in Dublin along with a number of other Email listing beekeepers, where we all met up for lunch in Paddy Cullen's pub, which was not far from the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) exhibition hall.

Written... 10 May 2002, Upgraded... 09 December 2005,
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