Tuesday morning this week, I found myself along with my 6 year old son Luke in the bee yard at 6:30am. Luke’s class had “pet day” at school, and the only “pets” we have at the moment are our bee colonies. One of the things Luke amuses himself with when he tags along with his Dad to the bee yard (normally on warm sunny afternoons…) is plucking big fat fuzzy drones off the combs and making pets out of them! It of course made perfect sense for him to take a couple of drones to school to show off his “pets”. I had agreed earlier that would be fine, but of course he didn’t remember until early that morning!
Though the bees were still lounging around inside the hive at that point in the morning (they normally don’t start foraging for nectar until the morning sun begins to shine on their hives) they weren’t nearly as cross as we expected them to be. We went to one of the stronger colonies in our bee yard, and popped a honey/pollen frame on the outside of the brood cluster, and within around 30 seconds or so Luke’s quickly little fingers had plucked a couple of drones off the frame, and deposited them in the little queen cage he always has in his pocket. In case you were wondering, drones are male bees that lack stingers, so they do make wonderful and safe pets for budding little beekeepers.
As I shuttled Luke and his pets off to the bus stop, he named them Billy and Phillip (after his favorite cousins.) It’s a real joy to have my little boy tag along with me on trips to the bee yard. He’s fascinated by bees, and is always wanting to get more and more involved. He’s gotten real good at moving ahead of me during the Spring, popping the covers of the hives, retrieving the empty feeder cans, and prying of their covers with a hive tool so I can refill them. Once in a while I’ll hand him a frame of bees with the queen on it and let him find her and then watch her for a minute or so.