Fall Buzz - 2017

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Fall Buzz - 2017

Seasons greetings from the Planet Bee hive! What an eventful fall it's been for us, and what better way to celebrate the end of the year then to recap all the excitement and fun that has taken place over the last few months.

New Additions to Our Hive

Fall 2017 interns

Fall 2017 interns

This fall, we were fortunate to bring on some wonderful new staff members, including our new educator and outreach coordinator, Zach (that’s me), as well as our four interns--Ginger from UC Berkeley, Jordan and Drea from San Francisco State University, and Nancy from College of Marin. I’ve personally loved learning about the basics of beekeeping by working first hand in the hive. Having recently moved from the Big Island of Hawaii, where I taught middle school science for two years as a Teach for America corps member, I’ve especially enjoyed traveling to different schools around the Bay Area and honing my teaching skills.

Our amazing interns have been invaluable this fall by leading games and activities at tabling events and even helping catch a swarm that landed on a neighbor’s fence! We will miss this group, but look forward to welcoming the new spring interns-- Colleen, Samantha, Christopher, and Denver. Be on the lookout for more about them in the next blog.

Inquisitive students at Visitacion Valley Middle School witness first hand what life in the hive is like in our observation hive.

Inquisitive students at Visitacion Valley Middle School witness first hand what life in the hive is like in our observation hive.

Pollinating Young Minds

We’re proud to share that we reached a total of 4,500 students this year through our educational programs, the Humble Honey Bee, the ZomBee Watch Project, and Adopt-A-Hive, adding to our ever growing hive of environmental stewards, which is now 15,000! Our mission continues to be rooted in creating a green-minded generation by inspiring environmental stewardship and individual action through the teaching lens of the struggling honey bee. It’s always such a joy watching a child’s attitude towards honey bees change from fear to admiration after one of our site visits.

Jordan, Sarah, Zach, and Nancy engaging with the community at  Discovery Day at AT&T Park.

Jordan, Sarah, Zach, and Nancy engaging with the community at  Discovery Day at AT&T Park.

Swarming Around Town

This season was packed for us with educating the public at community events, including the Whole Kids Vendor Fair, YSI’s Annual Wildlife Festival, BaySplash, the City Slicker Farms Harvest Festival, North Bay Science Discovery Day, the Bioneers Family Fair, and Discovery Day at AT&T Park. We always have so much fun teaching people about how they can help support our pollinator friends as they interact with our dynamic table top activities and live bees. They even get to make a seed ball to plant to help bees! Some highlights for us were attending awe-inspiring talks by world-renowned change-makers, innovators, and visionaries at the National Bioneers Conference at Marin Center in San Rafael and being part of the Bay Area Discovery Day at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and AT&T Park with an overall attendance of over 45,000 people!

Clif Bar employees work together to assemble bee hives during one of our team-building workshops.

Clif Bar employees work together to assemble bee hives during one of our team-building workshops.

Work(er bee)shops

Fall was the season of honey harvests for us at Planet Bee. During Google’s annual honey harvest, we had a blast tasting mead made by employees from previous year's harvest. We had some seriously sweet and sticky fun scraping honey off the frames by hand at SAP. And we enjoyed taking a group of middle schoolers directly into the hives to pull out the honey frames at Keller Estate Winery.

During our lunchtime talk at Earthjustice headquarters, employees shared their favorite facts about the bees.

During our lunchtime talk at Earthjustice headquarters, employees shared their favorite facts about the bees.

We also held a beehive building workshop with the Food and Innovation Team at the Clif Bar Headquarters, where employees got busy assembling bee hives, bonding over honey, cheese, and mead tastings, and learning a thing or two about life in the hive from myself and Sarah. By the end of the day, we made a total of 10 beehives, which will be sold at our annual bee sale to support our educational programs!

We were also honored to present an informative lunchtime talk to Earthjustice employees at their headquarters in San Francisco. Of course, we were preaching to the choir as this group is devoted to fighting for environmental justice and advancing the promise of a healthy world for all.

Students examine live bees up close during our Humble Honey Bee Project lesson

Students examine live bees up close during our Humble Honey Bee Project lesson

Join Our Hive

A whopping 2,500 seed balls were created by children and adults this fall, which equates to 25,000 California Poppies being added to the Bay Area region. That’s a lot of food for the bees!

We wish to thank all of our community, corporate, nonprofit, and school partners for joining in our mission to foster stewardship for the earth. We couldn’t do it without you.

Join us as we change the world-- one bee and one student at a time!

Help us create the next generation of environmental stewards. Every $10 donation provides a student with a unique up-close experience with bees and the tools to help them!

PS - Be on the lookout next week for Planet Bee's New Year's Resolutions!

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Written by Zach Parlee

Planet Bee Educator, Staff Writer and Community Outreach

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The Sacred Bee: Ancient India

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The Sacred Bee: Ancient India

Brahmi, the Bee Goddess

Brahmi, the Bee Goddess

India's oldest sacred book, the Rig-Veda, contains many mentions to bees and honey. This book was probably compiled between 2000 and 3000 BCE, and was written in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word for honey is madhu, which is etymologically identical to the Greek methu and the Anglo-Saxon medu, or mead.

Honey, Bees, and the Gods

The Hindu gods were often associated with bees. The gods Vishnu, Krishnu, and Indra were called Madhava, the nectar-born ones, and their symbol is the bee. Vishnu is represented as a blue bee upon a lotus flower, the symbol of life, resurrection, and nature. The bee is blue because blue is the color of the sky from which the gods come.  Where Vishnu steps, a spring of mead appears. Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, is often depicted with a blue bee on his forehead. Another god, Siva, the Destroyer, has another form, called Madheri, or the suave one. In this form his symbol is an inverted triangle with a bee resting upon it. There is even a Hindu Bee Goddess,  named Bhrami, a word which means 'bees' in Hindi. It was said that Bramari resided in the heart chakra and emitted the buzzing sound of bees. This buzzing, humming noise was often imitated in Vedic chants, and represented the essential sound of the universe all across India. 

Kama, the God of Love, with his bowstring of bees

Kama, the God of Love, with his bowstring of bees

Then there is Kama, the god of love, who carries a bow with a string made of bees.  And that is not the only bee-related weapon: the twin horsemen, the Asvins, lords of light, have a whip dripping with honey known as Madhukasa. These horsemen ride in a chariot known as Madhuvahana, or "honey-bearing". By sprinkling honey from their whip, the Asvins were said to prolong the peoples' lives. There is even a hymn written specifically about the honey whip in the Atharva-Veda!

"When the honey-lash comes bestowing gifts, there life's breath, and there immortality has settled down.

As the bees carry honey upon honey, thus in my person, O Asvins, luster shall be sustained. 

O Asvins, lords of Brightness, anoint me with the honey of the bee, that I may speak forceful speech among men."

This last verse refers to the belief, common in many countries besides India, that eating honey would make one's speech more eloquent and one's songs more sweet. In European myths, bees were referred to as the "Birds of the Muses" for this reason. One hymn mentions a poet named Kahsivat who was aided in his singing by honey which had dropped from the Asvins' honey vat. 

Uses of Honey

As in Ancient Egypt, rulers in India exacted honey as taxes from their people: one sixth of all honey produced. Honey was so highly valued that if someone stole it, they were cursed to return in their next life as a gadfly! Novice priests were ordered to abstain from honey, as well as from meat, perfume, and women. This must have been a real test of self control for the young priests, as every month a feast to the gods was celebrated in which these priests had to go around offering guests honey. If a novice broke down and ate honey, he had to fast for three days and spend one day standing in water!

However, not all religious orders felt the same way about honey. The Satapatha Brahmana taught that honey was "the supreme essence of plants" and that eating it was like absorbing the essence of the Vedas, the most ancient of Hindu scriptures. In one passage honey is said to be a life sap of the sun, a "life-substance" which was often used in ritual. The writer's enthusiastic love for honey can be clearly seen in these lines: 

"Honey the winds pour forth for the righteous, honey the rivers; full of honey may the plants be for us! Honey by night and morn, rich in honey may the region of earth be for us, honey the father Heaven!" 

In another passage, priests are compared to bees and the sacrifice they offer to the gods is compared to honey. 

"'It is bees' honey,' they say: for bees' honey means the sacrifice, and the bees that make the honey are no other than the officiating prests; and it is inlike manner as the working bees make the honey increase, so do they [the priests] thereby strengthen the sacrifice." 

Honey played a role in many rites and ceremonies. When a male baby was born, he was supposed to be fed with gold, honey, and butter, while a sacred formula was recited. Honey was often a staple at marriages. Among the Deccan Hindus, even today, honey is offered to the bridegroom when he comes to the bride’s house. In other regions, honey is offered at the wedding, and the mouth, forehead, and other parts of the bride are smeared with honey. When the newly married man kisses his bride, he says:

“Honey, this is honey, the speech of thy tongue is honey; in my mouth lives the honey of the bee, in my teeth lives peace.”

Honey was also used in magical charms of protection, such as charms against the poison of snakes, scorpions, and other insects.

Swarms

Swarms of bees had a number of symbolic meanings. If a swarm of bees flew into a house, this meant bad luck, which could only be avoided by burning pieces of the Udumbaba-tree.  If you dreamed that bees flew into your house, you were soon to die or suffer some terrible misfortune.  

We wish you the best of fortune, and hope that you have enjoyed learning about bees and honey in Ancient India! Next up, we’ll be learning about the significance of bees in Ancient China. Stay tuned!

 

Source: 

Ransome, Hilda M. "The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore". London: George Allen & Unwin, 1937. Pp. 19-41. 

Gough, Andrew. "The Queen Bee Project: The Indian Bee Goddess: Bramari Devi". March 4, 2012. https://thequeensbeesproject.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/the-indian-bee-goddess-bhramari-devi/ 

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Written by Ayla Fudala

Planet Bee Educator Emeritus and Guest Writer

Graduate Student at the University of Glasgow

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The Sacred Bee: Ancient Egypt

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The Sacred Bee: Ancient Egypt

Bees and Honey in Ancient Egypt

It cannot be disputed that the Ancient Egyptians attached great religious and spiritual significance to the honey bee. Bees were associated with royalty in Egypt; indeed, as early as 3500 BC, the bee was the symbol of the King of Lower Egypt! (The symbol of the King of Upper Egypt was a reed). There are many examples of bee hieroglyphs to be found in the records, as well as hieroglyphs for honey and beekeeper. 

Bee-related hieroglyphs

Bee-related hieroglyphs

Beekeeping has been practiced for thousands of years in Egypt. For at least four thousand five hundred years, the Egyptians have been making hives in the same way, out of pipes of clay or Nile mud, often stacked one on top of another. These hives were moved up and down the Nile depending on the time of year, allowing the bees to pollinate any and all flowers which were in season. Special rafts were built for moving these hives, which were stacked in pyramids. At each new location, the hives were carried to the nearby flowers and released. When the flowers died, the bees were taken a few miles further down the Nile and released again. Thus the bees traveled the whole length of Egypt. This tradition continues into the present day. 

Ancient Egyptians bake honey cakes

Ancient Egyptians bake honey cakes

Honey was used by all classes in Ancient Egypt, indicating that it must have been produced on a large scale. It was used for everything from sweetening food, to preventing infection by being placed on wounds, to paying taxes. One marriage contract has been found which states, "I take thee to wife... and promise to deliver to thee yearly twelve jars of honey." Honey was exacted as tribute from conquered countries; for instance, many jars of honey were paid each year by the Retenu tribe of Syria to their Egyptian conqueror, Thothmes II.  

Honey and wax were used for religious as well as practical purposes. Sacred animals were fed cakes sweetened with honey. These animals included the sacred bull at Memphis, the sacred lion at Leontopolis, and the sacred crocodile at Crocodilopolis. Mummies were sometimes embalmed in honey, and often sarcophagi were sealed up with beeswax. Jars of honey were left in tombs as offerings the dead, to give them something to eat in the afterlife. One of our favorite stories to tell kids is that when King Tut's tomb was open, a 2,000-year-old jar of honey was found. And because honey never spoils, it was still perfectly edible!

It was widely believed in Ancient Egypt that if a witch or a wizard made a beeswax figure of a man and injured or destroyed it, the man himself would suffer or die. In a ceremonial offering known as the "Opening of the Mouth", priests used special instruments to place honey into the mouth of a statue of a god, or the statue or mummy of a king or other great noble. Certain lines in ancient rituals indicate that the Egyptians may have even believed that the soul of a man (his "ka", or double; the part which continues after death) took the form of a bee. Another ritual from the Book of "Am-Tuat", or "the Otherworld", compares the voices of souls to the hum of bees. 

Wall art of bees and honey

Wall art of bees and honey

"This god crieth out to their souls after he hath entered the city of the gods who are on their sand, and there are heard the voices of those who are shut in this circle which are like [the hum] of many bees of honey when their souls cry out to Ra."

It was written in another ritual, contained in the "Salt Magical Papyrus", that bees were created from the tears of the sun-god Ra himself, whom the Egyptians believed to be the creator of the earth and the sea. Ra's right eye was the sun, his left eye was the moon, and he caused the Nile to flood. 

"When Ra weeps again the water which flows from his eyes upon the ground turns into working bees. They work in flowers and trees of every kind and wax and honey come into being." 

We at Planet Bee hope that you find all this as fascinating and awe-inspiring as we do! Next up, we'll be talking about bees in Ancient India. Stay tuned!

Source: 

Ransome, Hilda M. "The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore". London: George Allen & Unwin, 1937. Pp. 19-41. 

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Written by Ayla Fudala

Planet Bee Educator Emeritus and Guest Author

Graduate Student at the University of Glasgow

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The Sacred Bee: Bees in Caveman Times

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The Sacred Bee: Bees in Caveman Times

Have you ever wondered how beekeeping first began? When the earliest humans, living in caves, discovered that the buzzing hive of bees could provide them with delicious honey and useful wax? 

Honey Gathering in Ancient Times

A figure gathers honey from a hive on a cliff face in this 8,000 year old painting discovered in Arana Cave in Spain

A figure gathers honey from a hive on a cliff face in this 8,000 year old painting discovered in Arana Cave in Spain

There is evidence that mankind was gathering honey in the late Paleolithic times, ten to fifteen thousand years ago. An 8,000-year-old rock painting discovered at Arana Cave near Valencia, Spain, depicts a person climbing a ladder to gather honey from a hive on a cliff face. This picture was made when humans were still in the hunting and gathering stage, before they had begun to farm or domesticate animals. The figure is naked, with no protection from the stings of bees, meaning that it must have taken great courage and endurance to gather this honey. Perhaps even then it was being used for magical or religious purposes. It is possible that this image was created as a talisman for a successful mission; that if the honey gathering was depicted on  stone, it would aid and protect the honey gatherer. 

After this painting there is a gap in our knowledge of honey gathering lasting thousands of years. 

Next month, read all about the many uses and meanings of bees and honey in Ancient Egypt!

Source: 

Ransome, Hilda M. "The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore". London: George Allen & Unwin, 1937. Pp. 19-41. 

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Written by Ayla Fudala

Planet Bee Educator Emeritus and Guest Author

Graduate Student at the University of Glasgow

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From the Halls of High School

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From the Halls of High School

Michael teaches a child how to make seed balls at Cal Academy's Pollinator Festival

Michael teaches a child how to make seed balls at Cal Academy's Pollinator Festival

Earlier this year, Planet Bee was lucky enough to have the help of two brilliant high school seniors from Irvington High School of Fremont, California: Michael Cao and Hesham Rabbani. These two chose to work with Planet Bee in conjunction with a school project on pesticides. They volunteered with us at Discovery Day at AT&T Park and the California Academy of Sciences, and conducted an interview with their high school peers to determine general awareness and concern regarding the bee crisis. Want to hear about the experience from their own lips? Read on!

What made you want to work with Planet Bee?

We chose to work with Planet Bee in accordance with a project we executed. My personal reason to reach out to this organization was their mission statement. We found what Planet Bee was doing to be interesting and beneficial to the environment. My project consists of a topic and a question. It is about investigating the decline of honey bees due to pesticides and finding a solution for the problem. Even though it was an assignment, we chose the topic of bees to be included in my project because of their importance in the world. I have seen on the news and personally researched that we need bees for one third of the food we eat. “Bees are responsible for pollinating about one-sixth of the flowering plant species worldwide and approximately 400 different agricultural types of plant” (Jessica Tucker).

Hesham teaches a child how to play our popular tabletop pollination game at Cal Academy

Hesham teaches a child how to play our popular tabletop pollination game at Cal Academy

    What did you learn from your experience with Planet Bee?

    At Planet Bee, we learned that there are people who care about the environment and work hard to educate people and try to make a change. It is important for our world to understand that there are matters which cannot be avoided. We decided to work with Planet Bee at large scientific events in the AT&T Park in San Francisco and at the California Academy of sciences. There, we communicated with people in order to teach them about the importance of bees and how Planet Bee is helping their situation.

    Planet Bee has provided us with many new experiences and opportunities to succeed. Observing professionals doing what they love and promoting their organization is a wonderful thing to see. We have faith that we can learn to do the same if we are put in similar situations once we join the workforce. Personally, we felt like the experience we had at the science festival was something new and exciting, something that made us step out of our comfort zone. The information we were provided during the interview with two of the staff really helped jumpstart our research into the right directions.

    What are you doing to help save the bees?

    In order to support the bees and take initiative, we are using locally produced honey and organic foods produced by bees in order to promote their existence. We have also planted poppy flowers in our backyards in order to provide sustenance for the bees.

    Interview with high school students

    Why do we need bees?

    • 60% say for honey and pollination.
    • 10% say just for pollinating.
    • 30% say for fruits and other food.

    What is currently happening with the bees?

    • 20% say “I don’t know.”
    • 40% say they are decreasing because of diseases and disorders.
    • 40% say because of pesticides.

    Do you know what Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is?

    • 50% say no.
    • 40% have heard of it but do not know what it is.
    • 10% say yes.

    What causes CCD?

    • 90% infer that it is caused by humans.
    • 10% say natural causes of some sort.

    Do you want to make a difference?

    • 40% say no.
    • 60% say yes because of how important bees are to the human food supply.

    Our Takeaway

    We are so grateful for students like Michael and Hesham, who take the initiative to learn more about the bee crisis and spread their knowledge among their peers. We hope to reach thousands more students in the years to come, increasing general awareness of the essential role bees play in our ecosystems and our lives. But we can't do it all on our own! Ask yourself- what can I do today to help save the bees? And healthy hives worldwide will thank you!

     

    Written by Ayla Fudala
    Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

    Guest Writers Michael Cao and Hesham Rabbani

     

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      Happy National Honey Month!

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      Happy National Honey Month!

      Did you know? September is National Honey Month! To celebrate, we'd like to tell you how honey is made, and share some of our favorite facts about it. 

      How is Honey Made? 

      A honey bee sips nectar with her proboscis

      A honey bee sips nectar with her proboscis

      A worker bee flies from flower to flower, sipping nectar with her long straw-like tongue, or proboscis. She stores the nectar in the top one of her two stomachs, which was designed exclusively for carrying nectar. There's a valve in between the top stomach and the bottom stomach, which is attached to the bee's digestive system. If she's hungry, the bee can let a little bit of nectar from her top stomach into her bottom stomach to feed herself. However, most of the honey is kept in the top stomach, where it's broken down by enzymes. The bee will visit 2,000 flowers every day to gather nectar. Once her stomach is full, she'll fly back to the hive and pass the nectar off to another worker bee, who will spit it up into one of the cells, and then fan it with her wings to evaporate the water. Nectar is about 20% sugar and 80% water, but honey is the reverse - about 80% sugar and only 20% water. That's why it's so thick and sticky. The bees dehydrate the nectar so that they can store a concentrated source of energy - sugar - inside the hive, and survive by eating it in the winter, when it's too cold to fly and all the flowers are dead. 

      Honey Fun Facts

      • Honey never goes bad! It will crystallize, but all you have to do is heat it up and it will turn back into a liquid. In fact, when archaeologists opened up King Tut's tomb, they found a 2,000-year-old jar of honey, and it was still edible!
      • Eating local honey made from native plants can help you if you have allergies
      • Humans have been using honey and wax for at least 9,000 years
      • Honey has antibacterial properties, so the Ancient Egyptians used to rub it on their wounds to prevent infection
      • In her whole life, a worker bee will only make 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey
      • Bees must visit approximately 2 million flowers and fly over 55,000 miles to make 1 pound of honey
      • Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water. It’s also the only food that contains pinocembrin, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning!
      • Two tablespoons of honey would fuel a honey bee flying once around the world
      Planet Bee Foundation

      We wish you a sweet September! 
       

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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      Summer 2017 Recap

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      Summer 2017 Recap

      Planet Bee's hive has been buzzing like crazy this summer! We've been busy with summer camps, workshops, and exciting events. Here's what we've accomplished in summer 2017: 

      Summer Camps

      Farm Camp at Alemany Farm

      Planet Bee partnered with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to teach weekly lessons to Farm Campers at the beautiful Alemany Farm, an organic community farm in San Francisco. Farm Camp ran for 8 weeks, with  2-week-long sessions, beginning on June 19th and ending on August 4th. Every first Thursday between those dates, Planet Bee visited Alemany Farm to teach campers our Humble Honey Bee (HHB) lesson and play a rousing game of bees vs. wasps. Every second Thursday, Planet Bee led a hive dive for campers at the Golden Gate Park CommUnity Garden, where we maintain two hives. Farm Camp was a great success, and we look forward to doing it again next summer!

      Want to know more? Here's a blog post about Farm Camp, and here's the full facebook album of pictures. 

      Summer Camp at Acta Non Verba Youth Urban Farm

      Planet Bee educators Sarah and Ayla worked with adorable campers once again at our long-time partner Acta Non Verba Youth Urban Farm Camp (ANV) in Oakland this summer. Each time, we taught our HHB lesson to four groups of students of different ages. To see the full facebook album of pictures of our time at ANV, click here. 

      ACE Summer Camp at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park

      We also visited ACE Summer Camp,  located at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park in Oakland. Peralta Hacienda itself is a Spanish house built in 1870 which serves today as a historical and cultural center. On our first day, Sarah and Ayla taught the first half of our HHB lesson (pollination) to several groups of children of varying ages. On the second day, Sarah was joined by Planet Bee Board Member Jaynee Howe and her son Oliver as she taught the second half of our HHB lesson (bee biology) to campers. To see the full facebook album of pictures of ACE Summer Camp, click here. 

      Summer Scout Wilderness Camp at the Sonoma Academy of Dance & Arts

      This was our first year working with the Sonoma Academy of Dance & Arts.  Sarah and Ayla had the honor of teaching our HHB lesson to their summer campers, ranging in age from 4 to 12.  Students had a blast watching honey bees close up in our observation hive, playing pollination games, eating honey fresh off the comb and making seed balls!

      Workshops

      Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

      Early in the summer,  Executive Director Debra Tomaszewski, her husband Bill, our Master Beekeeper, our intern Nancy, and Planet Bee educator Ayla, taught a fun, interactive bee basics lesson at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, where we've had an Adopt-A-Hive program for the last 2 years. 

      Mill Valley Library

      Sarah and Ayla also taught our Humble Honey Bee workshop at Mill Valley Library in Mill Valley. Youngsters of the neighborhood were busy as bees playing games and watching our busy bees close up in the observation hive!

      The Ranch

      For the 2nd year in a row, Planet Bee has been lucky enough to work with children at the fabulous summer camp through the Belvedere / Tiburon recreation department, now called The Ranch.  Children had fun buzzing through all of our bee friendly activities!

      Workshop with SAP and Bon Apetit

      This workshop was one to remember! The whole hive drove down to SAP headquarters in Mountain View, where we ran a three-hour workshop for employees and their children. We began by teaching our bee basics lesson, distributed cute antennae headbands to kids, and played a brand-new a honey bee garden scavenger hunt. Then we joined forces with the Bon Apetit kitchen staff at SAP to help kids build their own bee-friendly parfaits! None of the ingredients of these delicious concoctions would have existed without bees and other pollinators. To see the full facebook album of pictures from this fun event, click here. 

      Beekeeping for City Slicker Farms on behalf of Clif Bar

      Planet Bee Foundation

      We were very proud when we found out that our partner Clif Bar donated some of the beehives they built during our workshop with them to City Slicker Farm in Oakland.  City Slicker Farm's admirable mission is to "empower West Oakland community members to meet the immediate and basic need for healthy fresh food for themselves and their families by creating high-yield urban farms and backyard gardens." Sarah and Ayla checked in on the health of the hive while on their way home from working at Acta Non Verba-- talk about buzzy day! Our Master Beekeeper Bill, returned to give a hands-on workshop to the staff the following weekend. We're thrilled with this bee-utiful new partnership. 

      Events

      Network Connections Inc Charity Golf Outing

      On Wednesday, June 28th, Network Connections Inc (NCI), one of our new partners, hosted a charity golf outing to support Planet Bee! The outing was held at Downington Country Club in Downington, PA. Executive Director Debra Tomaszewski and her husband Bill flew in and had a lovely time golfing and sipping wine with the friendly people of NCI. We're so grateful for NCI's  generous donation of $9,000, which will allow us to bring our educational programs to hundreds of new students in high needs schools this fall!

      Planet Bee Foundation

      San Diego Comic Con

      Planet Bee had a blast speaking on a panel called "Saving the Bees Through Art" at this year's San Diego Comic Con, on July 20 to 23. We were invited by our new partner, painter and comic book illustrator Camilla d'Errico. In the picture to the right, you can see Camilla on the left, Planet Bee Executive Director Debra Tomaszewski in the middle, and Program Director Sarah Thorson on the right. Together, these three ladies educated the public about the struggling honey bee and the role art can play in environmentalism. 

      Gravenstein Apple Fair

      apple fair.JPG

      On Saturday, August 12th, Planet Bee had a blast tabling and educating the public at the 44th annual Gravenstein Apple Fair at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol, alongside our longtime partner Whole Foods Market. 

      New Corporate Partners

      • Agathist
      • Ashe Creek Bees
      • HoneyBum
      • Materials Marketing
      • Metazoa Beer
      • Phoebe8
      • Rice Coffee House
      • Smitty Bee Honey
      • Two Queen Bees Vintage
      • Virtual Strides
      • WineHive

      Staff

      New Intern, Nancy

      nancy - newsletter planet bee
      zach.jpg
      Planet Bee Foundation

      This summer, Planet Bee was overjoyed to welcome a brilliant and hilarious new intern, Nancy Luo.  She is a Bay Area native pursuing a bachelor’s in bioengineering. We were all extremely impressed with the quality of Nancy's work, and are so excited that she is staying on as our intern for another semester! Plus, she makes a mean Kombucha.

      Saying Hello to Zach

      Planet Bee is extremely excited about our new Environmental Educator Zach Parlee, who will be starting work on Monday, August 28th. Finally, we have a drone!  Zach graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he received a degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Management. He is a Teach-For-America grad who taught middle school science for two years on the Big Island of Hawaii, and spent a summer as an environmental educator for NatureBridge at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. His passion for environmental education is rooted in a belief that meaningful relationships with nature empower students to become agents of change. We can't wait to welcome him to our hive!

      Saying Goodbye to Ayla

      Sadly, your humble author will be leaving her position as Environmental Educator and Staff Writer on August 25th. I (Ayla) am not sure what I'll miss more: playing Bees vs Wasps with students, eating fresh honeycomb, or petting the saggy office basset hound, Stella. However, I am very excited for the future, as I will be starting my Master of Letters in Environment, Culture, and Communication at the University of Glasgow in Scotland this fall! I'll be one step closer to my dream of being a writer who communicates important environmental issues to the public through storytelling and other creative methods. I plan to return to the US only once I have perfected my Scottish accent and learned how to play the bagpipes. So to all of you who have read my newsletters and blogs over the past year, I say thank you so much, and goodbye (for now).

      PS. I will be staying on as a guest writer, so look out for my "Sacred Bee" series about the history of beekeeping throughout human civilization in the coming months. So no need to worry,  you'll be hearing from again soon!

       

      Written by Ayla Fudala

      Staff Writer and Environmental Educator

       

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      Back to School

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      Back to School

      The air is getting chilly, the leaves are changing color, and summer is coming to an end. Now begins Autumn, the time of year when students return to school. Backpacks are being bought, pencils are being sharpened, and new outfits are being picked out. It's the most exciting time of the year! 

      Students examine our observation hive of live bees during our Humble Honey Bee lesson

      Students examine our observation hive of live bees during our Humble Honey Bee lesson

      Students build light traps to catch ZomBees during our ZomBee Watch lesson

      Students build light traps to catch ZomBees during our ZomBee Watch lesson

      This fall, if you live in the Bay Area, why not invite Planet Bee to your child's school? Apply for our one-day Humble Honey Bee lesson, and we'll show up at your school with our hands-on educational materials, games, and honeycomb, and hive of live honey bees. Or sign up for our two to three-day ZomBee Watch Program, and watch in awe as your child engineers his or her own light trap, attempts to catch ZomBees, and reports his or her findings onto the official ZomBee Watch website, thus contributing to real scientific research!

      Schools with 50% or more of students receiving free or reduced cost lunches will receive our lessons at NO COST.  And schools with less than 50% of students receiving free or reduced cost lunches will receive a discount of 2X the percent of students receiving free or reduced cost lunches. So a school with 25% of students receiving free or reduced cost lunches would get our programs for 50% off. These sliding scale fees ensure that there is no barrier to access in our scope, and that environmental justice is upheld. 

      So sign up for our educational programs today! Give your child the once-in-a-lifetime experience of coming face to face with live bees, or conducting real scientific research. Sign up today, and set your child on the path to being a conscientious citizen, doing everything they can to maintain sustainability in the decades to come and keep the hives alive. 

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      Mission ZomBee: Accomplished!

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      Mission ZomBee: Accomplished!

      On Monday, June 5th, Planet Bee completed the pilot phase of our Remote ZomBee Watch Program with Sandwich STEM Academy on Cape Cod, Massachusetts! We are so overjoyed with the success of this program, and couldn't have asked for a better group of teachers and students to experiment with! 

      The program first began when the mother of Staff Writer and Planet Bee Educator Ayla, 7th grade science teacher Renee Fudala of Mashpee, Massachusetts, asked us whether her students could get involved in our ZomBee Watch Program. At first we thought it would be impossible, what with the 3,000 miles separating Planet Bee and Sandwich STEM Academy (SSA). But then we realized that we could teach Renee's students remotely, through a combination of skype lectures, Q&As, and sending lesson plans and materials to SSA teachers. Our remote program was a go!

      First, we had an introductory skype session with all 200 7th graders. While they sat in their auditorium, Sarah and Ayla taught the students about the importance of bees to our ecosystem and food supply, quizzed them on the three types of bees, and taught them about how the zombie flies parasitize honey bees, turning them into ZomBees. We ended the lesson by showing students a map of the world from the official ZomBee Watch website, showing them everywhere that Citizen Scientists had performed the experiment, and pointing out that they would be the first students to ever hunt ZomBees on Cape Cod! 

      Then we modified our normal ZomBee Watch lesson plans for SSA teachers to implement in their own classrooms. Building light traps became one lesson, while practicing the scientific method became the second. We sent our ZomBee and zombie fly samples to Sandwich for use in the second lesson, so that students could see them with their own eyes! We had to wait quite a while for it to warm up enough in Massachusetts for students to put their traps out, but eventually there came a spring night warm enough. Though students haven't caught any bees so far, it's still possible that they might. Students will even be able to bring home their traps this summer and set them out at home if they want! And if there are no ZomBees on the Cape, as currently seems to be the case, then that's good news for Cape Cod bees! 

      For our final skype lesson, we tailored our presentation to fit smoothly into the curriculum currently being taught by Renee and her co-teacher. This involved teaching students about taxonomy and the most common insect orders, the evolution of insects into these different orders, the co-evolution for flowers and pollinators, and the food web. We explained the process of data analysis, and reassured students that catching no ZomBees is just as significant a result as catching ZomBees would be. Finally, we introduced Professor Hafernik, ZomBee Watch founder for a Q& A! The students had a great time asking him questions, varying from "How long do zombie flies live?" to "Do bees have emotions?" to "Who would win in a swordfight, a bee or an earthworm?" Professor Hafernik answered each question easily, using his vast stores of entomological knowledge and cheerful humor, before thanking the students for their help and saying goodbye. 

      Planet Bee is so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such brilliant teachers and curious students! We couldn't have asked for a better group of test subjects for our remote program. Read on to see some of our favorite thank you notes from students! 

      Happy ZomBee Hunting!

       

      Thank You Notes from Students

      Dear Planet Bee Foundation,

      Planet Bee Foundation ZomBees

      Thank you so much for letting us participate in your research! I really enjoyed learning about ZomBees and creating traps!

      Thank you,

      Jackie

       

      Bee-cause of you, we were able to collect important data that could possibly save the bees! You are sweeter than HONEY!

      Sincerely,

      Planet Bee Foundation

      McCaela

      Planet Bee Foundation Zombees

       

      Dear Sarah and Ayla,

      Thank you so much for the bee information. I learned so much. I am so happy with all I learned. I will take this into the future. Yay I now love bees.

      Thank you.

      Planet Bee Foundation ZomBees

       

      Dear Ayla and Sarah,

      Thank you so much for spending your time on teaching us 7th graders about ZomBees and the issues that go with them. I have learned now to bee (haha, get it?) more careful and to look out for ZomBees!

      Sincerely,

      Molly

       

      Dear Science Watchers,

      I learned many things about ZomBees. I did not think these were real at first but this project changed my thinking. I learned that bees can change into exotic ZomBees. The process of this happening is amazing.

      Sincerely,

      Matt

      PS. What is a bee’s favorite haircut?

      A BUZZ cut.

       

      Dear Planet Bee Foundation,

      Thank you for the great opportunity to learn about the zombees. I got to learn not only about the zombie flies but also about bees, why they are so important, and the problems facing their population. I enjoyed making the trap and seeing what I could catch. I’m glad we didn’t find any ZomBees here!

      Thanks,

      Ari

       

      Zombies were, up until, what? 3 months ago? Just a trope of horror and survival movies, but now they’re a subject of reality, and knowlng this problem will surely cause us to uncover more of this use. All around setting up traps, learning about parasites and ecosystems too, was really interesting, and I would like to THANK YOU! For doing that.

      Wesley

       

      Dear Ayla, Sarah, and The Planet Bee Foundation,

      Thank you so much for teaching us about bees and for taking time out of your day to skype with us. I have learned so much about bees, thanks again!

      Sincerely,

      Ellen

      (P.S. Ayla, you have an amazing mom, she is one of my favorite teachers!)

      Planet Bee Foundation ZomBees
      Planet Bee Foundation ZomBee
      Planet Bee Foundation ZomBee

       

      More Bee Puns:

      1. Bee puns aren’t that great. IDK what all the BUZZ is about.

      2. Did you get stung by a bee? Don’t be a cry ba-BEE.

      3. A bee’s favorite sport is rug-BEE.

       

      Thank you for teaching us about bees and helping us experiment with Zombie bees. I learned a lot! I enjoyed building the traps. My group caught 25 midges! Even though we didn’t catch any zombie bees, we had fun! We caught moths, june bugs, beetles, midges and more! Again thank you!

      From,

      Tara

       

      Thank you so much for taking the time to teach us about zombees! I didn’t know much about bees before and now I want to save them!

      Thanks again,

      Nadia

      Planet Bee Foundation ZomBee Watch
      Planet Bee Foundation ZomBees

       

      We at Planet Bee feel so grateful to have such clever, compassionate, artistic, and hilarious students! After reading these thank you notes, we'll never consider ourselves experts of bee puns again. These 7th graders are the true bee-lievers! 

       

      Written by Ayla Fudala

      Staff Writer and Environmental Educator

       

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      Farm Camp at Alemany Farm

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      Farm Camp at Alemany Farm

      Ayla teaches campers about the concept of INTERDEPENDENCE

      Ayla teaches campers about the concept of INTERDEPENDENCE

      This summer, Planet Bee is overjoyed to be partnering with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to teach a weekly lesson to Farm Campers at the beautiful Alemany Farm, an organic community farm right off of Alemany Boulevard. Farm Camp will be running for 8 weeks, with  2-week-long sessions, beginning on June 19th and ending on August 4th. Every Thursday between those dates, Planet Bee will be visiting Alemany Farm for an hour to teach kids about our favorite pollinators!

      Campers examine our hands-on samples

      Campers examine our hands-on samples

      On the first Thursday of each session, Planet Bee teaches our Humble Honey Bee lesson to campers, introducing them to the three types of bees, the mechanics of pollination, hive behavior, and colony collapse and its causes. As always, we  bring an observation hive of live bees, tabletop games, and samples of bees, wax, and pollen, ensuring deep engagement through hands-on learning. 

      Then comes the funnest part of the lesson-- a complex game, similar to Sharks vs Minnows, invented by Planet Bee Educator Ayla. This game pits two hives of bees against one another- the red hive and the blue hive- and tries to see which hive can gather the most nectar. But there's a twist: two yellowjackets, who can tag the bees, forcing them to drop their nectar and return to the hive for 5 seconds. However, the bees are not totally without defenses. If three or more bees surround a yellowjacket and tag it, the yellowjacket must sit out for a full minute. Students loved this "Bees vs Wasps" so much that they demanded we bring back the materials for the game next Thursday, so that they could have a rematch! 

      A yellowjacket tries to tag a bee while he gathers nectar

      A yellowjacket tries to tag a bee while he gathers nectar

      Two campers having fun in their beesuits

      Two campers having fun in their beesuits

      A camper holds Sebastian, our (briefly) pet drone!

      A camper holds Sebastian, our (briefly) pet drone!

      On the second Thursday of each session, farm campers take a field trip to the CommUnity Garden at Golden Gate Park, where Planet Bee has two hives. Campers put on bee suits and our educators  lead them on a hive dive, teaching them the basics of beekeeping. We taught this lesson for the first time this Thursday. Our campers loved wearing the beesuits, running around pretending they were astronauts! They were in awe when Sarah and Ayla opened up the hive, showing them a frame of honey from the honey super, and a frame full of larvae from the brood box. And they were overjoyed to get to hold a fuzzy drone in their bare hands, which Ayla named Sebastian after her cat!

      Then students made seed balls with California poppy seeds, soil, and clay. When they planted their seed balls, our campers became environmental stewards, taking individual action to help the bees by providing them with a healthy food source.  Next, they got to taste fresh honeycomb, learning about how bees turn honey into nectar, how honey never goes bad, how humans have been harvesting honey for more than 9,000 years, and lots of other fun facts. Finally, we had time for a rematch of Bees vs Wasps, which ended in a tie after one of the hives full of nectar was accidentally knocked over. It was a blast for campers and teachers alike, and we can't wait to teach Farm Camp again next Thursday!

      Planet Bee Foundation

      The organic farming practiced at Alemany Farm is one great way to help protect bees. We at Planet Bee feel so lucky to be able to spend time at this gorgeous and inspirational garden, which brings communities together and spreads the message of healthy food and a healthy planet. And  it's not too late to sign up!

      Click here to apply to join the waitlist for Farm Camp at Alemany Farm!

      Just use the search bar to find "Urban Farm Camp". 

      We hope to see you there! Until then, happy farming.

      Written by Ayla Fudala

      Staff Writer and Environmental Educator

       

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      Spring 2017 Recap

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      Spring 2017 Recap

      This spring has certainly been a busy one for Planet Bee. We've worked at a variety of events, taught thousands of students, and even ran a 5K! Here's the update on what your favorite hive of worker bees has been up to. 

      TEACHING

      From the beginning of March to the end of May, Planet Bee educators have taught our Humble Honey Bee lesson at 20 schools, reaching more than 2,500 students.

      A student at Prestwood Elementary in Sonoma plays "Queen Bee"!

      A student at Prestwood Elementary in Sonoma plays "Queen Bee"!

      We also completed the pilot phase of our ZomBee Watch program, teaching Days 1-3 of our curriculum at schools across the Bay Area!

      Our teachers Sarah and Ayla created an alternate Day 3 lesson for students who didn't catch any ZomBees (good news for the bees!), which involved examining the insects they did catch, classifying them by order, recording and graphing their data, and analyzing their results. By the end of June we will have completed the pilot phase of our remote ZomBee Watch program as well, when we have our final skype session with 250 7th graders at Sandwich STEM Academy in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

      Ayla examines the insects caught by students' light traps at La Tercera Elementary in Petaluma

      Ayla examines the insects caught by students' light traps at La Tercera Elementary in Petaluma

      EVENTS

      California Academy of Sciences Pollinator Festival

      For 6 Sundays in a row, from March 19th to April 23rd, Planet Bee tabled at Cal Academy. We brought along our observation hive of live bees, our popular tabletop pollination game, our hands-on educational materials, and materials for seed-ball making. Estimating that about 500 people a day visited our table, we reached 3,000 children and adults, inspiring them to take individual action to help save the bees!

      Burroughs Family Farms Run Happy Bee Happy 5K Run

      Our amazing partner Benina Montes hosted a 5K Run and day of fun in the sun to raise money for Planet Bee! We had a wonderful time hanging out with the petting zoo (Debra particularly loved the camel!), chowing down on delicious organic fare, raffling off a beehive and some honey in the silent auction, and watching the race! 

      California Honey Festival

      We were overjoyed when we were asked to table and give public presentations at the California Honey Festival in Woodland. There was honey galore, live music, a man in a bee suit, and delicious food. Our educators Sarah and Ayla took center stage and put on a performance for the kids which walked them through the life stages of a honey bee and the three types of games, before ending with a pollination game in which the audience joined! Both girls were able to unleash their passions-- Sarah, who majored in Dance, did some fantastic interpretive dancing, while Ayla, who majored in English and loves creative writing, told the story.  Fun was had by all!

      UC Davis Bee Symposium

      We were so proud to be invited to this prestigious and exclusive symposium! We learned way more about bees than we'd ever imagined, from experts hailing from across the globe. Our favorite presentation was done by a Harvard Professor who had devised a way to monitor the movements of individual bumble bees by attaching QR codes to their fuzzy backs! Then we got on stage, and told the audience all about our new ZomBee Watch classroom program. It heartened us to know how many brilliant people are working day and night to study bees and find ways to save them!

      Community Picnic: Fruit and Veggie Fest

      Planet Bee had a blast at this fun-filled event, hosted by the Marin Health and Wellness Center to educate the residents of Marin's Canal District about healthy eating options. There was dancing, more mascots than we'd ever seen in our lives, delicious food, a singer crooning Spanish love songs, and Zumba! 

      Other events we visited included the Environmental Youth Forum of San Rafael, where we met some live bats and a group of brilliant middle schoolers who started their own nonprofit called Heirs to Our Ocean; and Google Earth Day

      We are so proud of all our progress. It couldn't have been done without you! But our mission is far from over.

      As long as the bees consider to struggle, we will be working tirelessly to educate the public about this important issue and create the next generation of environmental stewards.  This fall, we want to teach at least another 3,000 students, and to provide our lessons to high need schools at no cost, ensuring environmental justice. But to do that we need your support. Please consider donating to Planet Bee today! Every $10 you donate allows us to inspire another child to love bees and protect the environment.

      Join us as we change the world-- one bee and one student at a time!

      Written by Ayla Fudala

      Staff Writer and Environmental Educator

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      Congratulations Graduates!

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      Congratulations Graduates!

      Joelle and Shane graduate from San Francisco State University

      Joelle and Shane graduate from San Francisco State University

      It's that time of year again- when all the hardworking college students are rewarded for their years of study with a degree! It's a bittersweet time for us at Planet Bee. We're so proud of our amazing interns from San Francisco State University- Joelle,  Shane, and Nicole- and we know that they will go on to accomplish amazing things out there in the wide world. But we're going to miss them! These bees are leaving the hive, and it won't be the same without them. 

      Joelle, the anime fan and bug nerd who is never without a smile, is our longest alumna. She and Shane are pictured to the right. Joelle spent two years with Planet Bee, doing incredible work as our Program Coordinator. She has done everything from teaching, to writing lesson plans, to social media posts, to communications with corporate partners, to scheduling hundreds of school visits and events.  She is so dedicated and punctual that one time she actually rode her scooter three miles through the rain at 5 AM to get to work on time!

      Last summer Shane worked as Planet Bee's Teaching Fellow. Along with Joelle, Professor John Hafernik and the ZomBee Watch team, and SF State University's Center for Science and Math Education, Shane helped to create the curriculum for our cutting-edge new ZomBee Watch classroom program. He impressed us all with his extensive knowledge of entomology and his commitment to excellence. In part, we have Shane to thank for the overwhelming success of ZomBee Watch!

      Last but most certainly not least, there's Nicole, our cheerful jack-of-all trades. Nicole is always ready to brighten your day with her laughter and take on any task that is thrown her way with tenacity and spirit. She never missed an event, and was an incredible administrative assistant. We can't wait to see what this doctor-in-the-making will tackle next! 

      These three have given so much of their time to making Planet Bee the thriving nonprofit it is today. And so we congratulate them on their graduation, thank them for all their amazing work, and wish them un-bee-lievable futures! 

      Nicole looking fabulous at graduation!

      Nicole looking fabulous at graduation!

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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      Happy Mother's Day!

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      Happy Mother's Day!

      Hello, and Happy Mother's Day!

      Today we pay homage to the women who brought us into life, who rocked us in their arms and sang to us and taught us not to be afraid. Today we express our gratitude for all the years our mothers have spent-- and may still spend-- caring for us, comforting us, teaching us, and worrying about us. 

      In the beehive, every aspect of life is dependent upon the Queen Bee, the mother of all. She is waited upon, fed and cleaned by all her worker bees, and all turn to look at her when she passes. There can be no hive without a Queen Bee, and no life without a mother to create it.

      There are many lessons we can learn from the bees. Today, why not show your mother how grateful you are for her love?  

      As the poet George Cooper wrote: 

      Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
      Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
      Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
      But only one mother the wide world over.

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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      Spring has Sprung! Help Save the Bees with a Native Pollinator Garden

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      Spring has Sprung! Help Save the Bees with a Native Pollinator Garden

      The grass is green, the sky is blue, and flowers are blooming! Now is the time to start working on your garden. This spring, why not make your yard a paradise for pollinators, providing them with the nectar and pollen they need to be strong and healthy? Planet Bee spent hours poring over the best pollinator plants native to the Bay Area. We were excited to discover that some have medicinal uses, have been used by Native American tribes, and play host to a variety of butterfly species! Here's a list of some of our favorites:

      Baby_Blue_Eyes_o.jpg

      Baby Blue Eyes: a carpet of beautiful blue flowers, bliss for bees! Annual groundcover, flowers from early spring to midsummer. Must be kept moist if grown in full sun-- prefers partial shade.

      Silver Carpet Spreading Beach Aster: Ground cover with silver leaves and purple flowers in late summer. Native to the coastal bluffs of Monterey county. Host to Gabb's Checkerspot Butterfly larvae.

      California Poppy: 3 inches tall, with beautiful orange flowers. The state flower of California. Used by Planet Bee in all our seed balls! Medicinal uses include treatment of insomnia, aches, nervous agitation, and diseases of the bladder and liver.

      Checkerbloom: 2 foot spreading wildflower native to the coastal prairie, with beautiful pink flowers. A nectar and larval food source for the West Coast Lady, Painted Lady, Common Checkered Skipper, and the Gray Hairstreak butterflies.

      Silver Lupine: Tall plant with silver leaves and blue flowers in summer. Host to the caterpillar of San Francisco’s rare and endangered Mission Blue Butterfly. Native Americans have drunk tea with lupine leaves to treat nausea, failure to urinate, and internal hemorrhage. Some subspecies of lupine have poisonous seeds.

      Narrowleaf Milkweed: 2-4 foot plant with pink flowers in summer. Larval host and food source for the Monarch butterfly. Tolerates shade. Different Native American tribes have had different uses for it. The Zuni have used the silky seed fibers to make yarn which was woven into a fabric worn by dancers. The Pueblo have eaten green milkweed pods and uncooked roots. The Yokia Indians of Mendocino County have eaten young flowers. A number of tribes have turned the sticky sap into chewing gum by heating it until it became solid, then adding salmon fat or dear grease.

      Showy Tarweed: 3-4 foot plant with yellow flowers. Drought tolerant. Some native North American Indian tribes have relied on tarweed seeds as their staple food source. These seeds are rich in oil, and can be ground into a powder and eaten dry, mixed with water, or combined with cereal flours.

      California Yampah: 3 foot perennial grass-like plant with white flowers in summer. Native to Mt Diablo. It can be found in the Central Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada foothills, growing in moist soil, often near streams. Yampah seeds and leaves can be eaten, as can their tubers. These "Indian potatoes"  were relished by American Indians to the point the plants were over-harvested to extinction in many areas. Uncooked yampah roots are a gentle laxative if consumed in excess and were used medicinally for this purpose.

      Happy gardening!

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

      Sources

      www.baynatives.com

      For more info on Lupines: http://medicinalherbinfo.org/herbs/WildLupine.html

      For more info on Narrowleaf Milkweed:  https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_asfa.pdf  

      For more info on California Yampah: https://granadanativegarden.org/2016/07/14/care-for-a-side-of-yampah-with-your-meal-sir/

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      Knock, knock...

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      Knock, knock...

      Hello, and happy April Fool's Day!

      Today we'd like to share a couple of our favorite cheesy bee jokes with you. 

      Q: What do you call a bee that lives in America?
      A: A USB! 

      Q: Why did the bee go to the barbershop?
      A: To get a buzz-cut!

      Q: What do you call a bee born in May?
      A: A maybe! 

      Q: Why did the bees go on strike?
      A: Because they wanted more honey and shorter working flowers! 

      We wish you a day of fun and laughter. 

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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      The History of Earth Day

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      The History of Earth Day

      Do you know how Earth Day began?

      Up until the last few decades, Americans have been mostly unaware of the negative environmental impacts we are having on our planet.  We believed that the land was something which would always be there for us to use, something that could infinitely replenish itself. It is only rather recently that we've discovered how far this is from the truth. 

      The seeds of the green movement as we know it were first planted in the 1960s, with Rachel Carson's best-selling "Silent Spring", a book addressing the disastrous impact of pesticides on wildlife and ecosystems-- an issue that is instrumental in the decline of bees today.

      Earth Day was founded by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 after witnessing the destruction caused by the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara. In an amazing display of cross party-cooperation, Nelson persuaded Republican Pete McCloskey to serve as his co-chair. He built the event up by tapping into the power of the anti-Vietnam War protests erupting across the country, and picked the date April 22nd due to its convenience for college students, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams. Nelson also put together a staff of 85 to promote Earth Day across America. 

      On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets in massive coast-to-coast rallies to demonstrate for a healthy environment. Earth Day  gave a voice to the new tide of concern for the environment. Groups that had been fighting separately against such issues as oil spills, sewage dumps, and deforestation realized that they had a common agenda, and grew stronger by banding together. Impressively, the movement managed to unite Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, rural and urban. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Environmental protection was finally a part of national policy!

      In 1990, for Earth Day's 20th anniversary, the event went global. 200 million people in 141 countries celebrated the event, and Nelson was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

      Earth Day 2000 used the power of the internet to organize activists, with 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people.

      Earth Day 2010 was a struggle, beset by climate change deniers, wealthy oil lobbyists, and a largely uninterested public. Despite all the odds, Earth Day was a success, with 250,000 people attending a Climate Rally at the National Mall in Washington DC, and the launching of the world's largest environmental service project, "A Billion Acts of Green®", a global tree planting initiative that has since grown into "The Canopy Project".

      Today, Earth Day is the largest secular event in the world, with more than a billion people in 192 countries across the world participating. This April 22nd, help us recapture that original Earth Day energy, and defend Mother Earth with us, by signing up for the Burroughs Family Farm 5k Run! Proceeds support Planet Bee's educational programs, allowing us to inspire a green-minded generation who will protect the planet in the decades to come. Today more than ever, we need to stand together to ensure a sustainable future.

      Want to learn more about the history of Earth Day? Check out the cool video below! 

      Source:

       "The History of Earth Day". Earth Day Network. 2017. http://www.earthday.org/about/the-history-of-earth-day/ 

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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      Who Runs the Hive? Girls!

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      Who Runs the Hive? Girls!

      From the moment they're born to the moment they die, female worker bees labor tirelessly to keep the hive alive-- cleaning cells, feeding larvae, making wax, foraging for nectar and pollen, guarding the hive against attack, and much more. 

      Today we celebrate all of us lucky enough to be born female, whether we are daughters or mothers, workers or queens. Women run the world just as surely as female bees run the hive-- and it is no different in our office, where our Executive Director (Queen Deb!), two full-time Environmental Educators, and four interns are all women. 

      Today, take some time to thank the women in your life-- your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter, your friends, and your coworkers. If you are a woman, look back on your accomplishments and feel proud of who you are. Remember that women are strong, and women get the job done. 

      Happy International Women's Day!

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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      Buzz Past the Finish Line with Planet Bee!

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      Buzz Past the Finish Line with Planet Bee!

      Looking for something fun - and fulfilling - to do this Earth Day? We've got just the thing.

      On Saturday, April 22nd, join us for an amazing 5K Benefit Run and family-friendly event at Burroughs Family Farms in Snelling, CA. 

      The Run Happy Bee Happy event will kick off at 10 am with the 5k Run/Walk followed by the Kids’ Run.  Race participants will run through gorgeous organic almond orchards, and get a tour of Burroughs Family Farm's organic and sustainable practices – including their solar panel sites, farm-made compost, biodiverse beneficial hedgerows, and organic pastured hens. Following the race, everyone will enjoy brunch made with Burroughs Family Farm products and other locally-sourced organic foods. Brunch will include quiche, yogurt parfait, various fruits and granola, coffee, lemonade and some adult beverages. You won't leave hungry. 

      Besides the run, there's going to be a lot to do. Face painting, a petting zoo, wagon rides, live music, fresh-off-the-farm food... We can't wait! We'll also be teaching a free Humble Honey Bee workshop, and raffling off swag from our awesome sponsors, as well as Planet Bee honey.

      The best part? When you register for the run, you've made a donation! The proceeds of this run benefit us at Planet Bee Foundation.

      If you're not the running type (believe us, we understand), you can still get involved to support Planet Bee and this incredible event. Become a sponsor of the race, and we'll put your name on a sign, and fill your pockets with California wildflower honey! You can become a sponsor by emailing Benina Montes, our partner at Burroughs Family Farms: benina@burroughsfamilyfarms.com.

      Want to learn more about Burroughs Family Farms? Check out the video below. 

      We'll see you there!

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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      Spotlight on our Volunteers!

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      Spotlight on our Volunteers!

      Planet Bee Foundation Emily Erickson

      Our first volunteer, Emily Erickson, is a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Entomology. She completed her undergraduate degree at UC Davis with a B.S. in Agricultural Science and a minor in Entomology.  Now, she is enjoying learning about native bee behavior and identification for her current research project. Eventually, Emily hopes to work with urban bee conservation through habitat restoration and pollinator gardens. She cares deeply about urban green space development, both for ecosystem restoration and for human emotional and physical health. 

      Q: How did you find out about Planet Bee?

      A: I found Planet Bee while searching for volunteer opportunities after my graduation from UC Davis. I grew up across the Bay in Oakland, and I was attracted to the prospect of applying my knowledge in apiculture and entomology to development and education within my own community. 

      Q: How are you involved with Planet Bee?

      Planet Bee Foundation Emily Erickson

      A: While I was living in Oakland, I helped with some beekeeping demonstrations and other outreach activities. Now that I live across the country and am less able to participate in hands on events, I contribute a blog post here and there. I hope to become more involved in the ZomBee Watch Project soon! 

      Q: Why are you involved with Planet Bee?

      A: I volunteer with Planet Bee because I believe that the work they do is invaluable. We have seen the positive pay-offs of urban gardens and outdoor learning, and it seems only natural to incorporate beekeeping into these existing systems. I personally felt so much awe when I came to understand how honey bees interact with each other and the surrounding environment, and I have used this information to look at my environment through a whole new lens. I believe that teaching children and adults about honey bee behavior and stewardship will have positive pay-offs towards our understanding of science and ecology, while helping to support pollinator populations and enhance urban green spaces.

      Q: What has been your best experience volunteering with Planet Bee?

      A: I recall showing families and children our observation hive at the Sacramento Farm to Fork festival. It was incredibly rewarding to show people how a hive looks inside, and to see them gradually get over their fears. It's something that people are very interested in learning about, but up until recently the information hasn't been that accessible. I find that people become much more interested in bees when they can watch them perform as they would inside the hive. 

      Q: Why do you think the work Planet Bee does is important?

      A: I think that Planet Bee's work is important in bringing vital information on honey bee biology, and by extension ecosystem health, to interested parties. 

      Planet Bee Foundation Joseph See

      Our second volunteer, Joseph See, grew up in Fresno California, and has had a lifelong love for insects and other living things. After graduating from California State University Long Beach, he has worked mainly as an environmental educator. Joseph is passionate about connecting people with science and fostering a love for the natural world. When not working, Joseph is usually tinkering with some sort of creature or plant related project, such as building observation hives. 

      Q: How did you find out about Planet Bee?

      A: I found out about Planet Bee through a friend of Debra’s when I mentioned my passion for beekeeping.

      Q: How are you involved with Planet Bee?

      A: I have assisted Planet Bee with tabling and community garden events

       Q: Why are you involved with Planet Bee?                                           

      A: I enjoy being able to help Debra and chat with Bill and folks about bees. It is also a nice excuse to pop open beehives and bother the little creatures!

      Q: What has been your best experience volunteering with Planet Bee?

      Planet Bee Foundation Joseph See

      A: I have enjoyed facilitating the hive dives for the public at the Kezar Community Garden. Opening up a beehive is kind of like a dissection but without the gore. Perhaps it scratches the same itch that gets kids to dig up fire ant mounds with spoons smuggled from the dining hall. It is a beautiful thing to observe the workings of this superorganism. It is great to watch people overcome their fear and start being drawn into the complexities of the hive. 

      Q: Why do you think the work Planet Bee does is important?

      A: I think it is great for folks to be reminded of the complexity and interconnectivity of the natural world. Bees are a great medium for that. 

      Planet Bee feels so grateful to have two such talented and passionate scientists as our volunteers. Despite their busy schedules, both Emily and Joseph have chosen to dedicate some of their time to helping Planet Bee pursue its mission of creating a green-minded generation through environmental stewardship and spreading the message of the struggling honey bee. They are an inspiration for us all.

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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      2016: Sweet as Honey for Planet Bee!

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      2016: Sweet as Honey for Planet Bee!

      Planet Bee Educator Sarah puts her antennae up with students at Fairfield Elementary

      Planet Bee Educator Sarah puts her antennae up with students at Fairfield Elementary

      Since becoming a nonprofit, we’ve taught our Humble Honey Bee Program at 78  schools in Northern California and worked with 9,500 students; in 2016 alone we've taught over 6,000 students! That means that last year 6,000 children came face to face with our observation hive of live bees, learned how bees create one third of our food supply through pollination, and came up with ways that each of them personally could help save the bees from Colony Collapse Disorder. Our 90% retention rate proves that these students will remember what they have learned, perhaps even for the rest of their lives. Our goal is that  these students will grow up to become environmentalists, making decisions that will impact the future of our planet and all its inhabitants.

      We also tabled at a multitude of events. Some, such as Discovery Day at AT&T Park and the San Francisco Green Festival Expo, had attendance of more than 30,000. Others, such as Health Hub Novato Food Drive and Pollinator FunFair, brought our message home to local communities. By bringing our observation hive and spreading the word to save the bees at these events, we have influenced hundreds of thousands of children and adults alike to become environmental stewards.

      A young girl removes a frame of honey from a hive at Keller Estate Winery 

      A young girl removes a frame of honey from a hive at Keller Estate Winery 

      Our Adopt-A-Hive program saw substantial growth in 2016. Planet Bee permanently installed  hives at eight locations in the Bay Area. We taught beekeeping and honey-spinning workshops at six of these locations, including Google, SAP, Homeward Bound of Marin, and Acta Non Verba Youth Urban Farm Project.  Hundreds of employees and students were able to don beekeeping suits and work hands-on with our hives, inspiring them to develop an emotional connection to the bees and therefore to help protect them in the years to come. Additionally, Planet Bee sold 250 packets of bees, thus introducing 2,500,000 new honey bees to pollinate the flowers of Northern California. All proceeds from bee sales went directly into supporting our educational programs.

      Students build ZomBee light traps at Argonne Elementary

      Students build ZomBee light traps at Argonne Elementary

      Perhaps the crowning achievement of 2016 was the creation and launch of Planet Bee’s Citizen Science ZomBee Watch K-12 School Program (ZBW). Created in collaboration with ZomBee discoverer and San Francisco State University Entomology Professor John Hafernik and his team, this program teaches students to become ZomBee Hunters! ZomBees are honey bees which have been parasitized by zombie flies, causing them to fly at night and be attracted to lights. This three-day program is STEM-based and complies with Next Generation Science Standards. During the first day, students learn about the ZomBee phenomenon and use recycled materials to engineer their own ZomBee light traps. On the second day, students practice the scientific method by examining and analyzing samples of zombie flies, zombie larvae, and ZomBees. Between the second and third days, students put out their ZomBee traps. On the third day, students examine the contents of their traps, determine whether or not they have caught any ZomBees, and post their findings on the official ZBW website, thus contributing to real scientific research on the geographical spread of the zombie fly.  Teachers at Bay Area schools interested in bringing ZBW to their students can sign up here. Planet Bee has enjoyed piloting the ZBW program with Bay Area schools such as Oak Grove Elementary and Argonne Elementary, and is looking forward to piloting our national remote ZBW program with students at Sandwich Middle School in Massachusetts this spring. We will also begin offering ZBW to out-of-state schools in the coming fall.

      In 2016, we were overjoyed to add five new worker bees to our hive, allowing us to enormously expand the reach and scope of our programs. We had a great deal of help from our three new San Francisco State University interns, who assisted Planet Bee in exchange for college credits. Shane Garvin, our token drone and resident mad scientist, helped create the curriculum for our brand-new ZomBee Watch Program Nicole Zamignani, a pediatrician-in-the-making, was our jack of all trades. Ashley Velasquez, an extraordinary artist, became our resident photographer, videographer, and graphic designer. And of course we had Joelle Dugay, our longest intern of two years, without whom none of our school visits or events would be scheduled. Joelle keeps Planet Bee buzzing with her lightning efficiency and amazing organizational skills.

      Planet Bee Foundation Staff

      Planet Bee was also able to hire two new full-time environmental educators, allowing us to teach many more students than ever before! Sarah Thorson recently graduated from Chapman University with majors in Environmental Science and Dance. She took charge of communications and community partnerships, and Planet Bee has grown tremendously due to her long hours of work. I myself, Ayla Fudala, recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with majors in Environmental Studies and English. I became Planet Bee’s staff writer, composing blogs and newsletters that I hope have informed and entertained you. Both Sarah and I have taught programs, done beekeeping and honey spinning, tabled at events, advertised on social media, written countless grant applications, and created and improved curriculum; and we have loved every minute of it!

      To us, Planet Bee feels like a home, and we have our astonishing Founder and Executive Director to thank for it. Everything that Planet Bee has accomplished has been a result of the tireless love and labor of Debra Tomaszewski, who in the space of only a few years miraculously managed to transform Planet Bee from a simple backyard beekeeping club, run side-by-side with her husband Bill, into a fully-fledged nonprofit, spreading the word about the struggling honey bee to thousands of children and adults across Northern California. I am amazed every day to come in to work and find that not only has Deb been up all night emailing schools and sponsors, she has also woken up early to provide bagels and coffee and a bright smile for her staff. Our queen bee makes every day a day to remember.

      In this past year, Planet Bee’s reach has expanded beyond our wildest dreams, and we have transformed from a simple idea to a fully-fledged educational nonprofit. None of these successes would have been possible without your support, and so we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts.

      No matter how much you’ve done, there is always infinite room to grow. In the spirit of self-improvement, here are Planet Bee’s new year’s resolutions!

      In 2017, our goal is to teach our Humble Honey Bee program at 60 schools to another 7,000 future environmental stewards. We plan to bring our new ZomBee Watch Program to at least another 10 schools and 500 students and will pilot our remote ZBW program at Sandwich Middle School in Massachusetts,  along with other schools across the United States—changing us from a local nonprofit to a national one! We intend to make this remote ZBW program open to all by next fall, so email our Executive Director Debra Tomaszewski at debra@planetbee.org if you’re interested.

      On the Adopt-A-Hive front,  our goal is to increase the number of hives at our current locations, and to install hives at several new locations, including schools, community gardens, and corporate campuses. Our AAH program will bring hundreds of thousands of new bees to the Bay Area in 2017. This summer we plan to build an outdoor classroom, containing a pollinator garden and hives, in the  Golden Gate Park CommUNITY Garden. We will invite schools to take field trips to the garden, where students will get to suit up for a unique hands-on beekeeping experience!

      At present, we are tirelessly working to raise funds so that we can continue to offer our programs at no cost, removing any barriers to accomplishing our mission of creating a green-minded generation of environmental stewards. In 2017, we will dedicate ourselves to achieving our goals and spreading a love for honey bees to thousands more, from coast to coast.

      From all of us at Planet Bee – Happy New Year. Here’s to very green and healthy future!

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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