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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      Colony Failure Linked to Low Sperm Viability in Honey Bees

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      Colony Failure Linked to Low Sperm Viability in Honey Bees

      In the last few years, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has become the buzzword on everybody’s lips. CCD is when a seemingly healthy honey bee colony with adequate food stores and brood (bee larvae) abandon their hive, leaving only the queen and a few nurse bees behind. Since it was first recognized in 2006, bee mortality rates due to CCD have risen to 44% in 2016. This drastic population decline has been chiefly attributed to four factors: poor nutrition, pests, pathogens, and pesticides.

      A recent study by the USDA ARS Bee Research Facility suggests that another factor contributing to CCD could be low sperm quality or “viability”.

      Let’s begin with the bee who produces this sperm, the drone. A drone is a male bee, often derided as the “free loader” of the colony due to the fact that he does no work and eats twice as much honey as a worker bee. The true role of a drone is to reproduce. Once a drone is mature (14 days after emerging from the cell) he has 21 days to mate with a queen before his sperm expires. This is accomplished in “congregations,” where around 25,000 drones and virgin queens gather and mate. Each queen will mate with around 12 drones (who die in the process), and will keep their sperm in her “spermatheca,” a small, ball-shaped pouch in her abdomen. She will then use this stored sperm to fertilize the eggs that will eventually become workers.

      Due to this highly efficient system, a queen will only mate one or two times in her life. Thus, it is essential to the colony’s survival that the queen remains strong with healthy laying habits. One of the primary warning signs that beekeepers look for in unhealthy hives is a “spotty” brood pattern, meaning that there are many empty cells in the middle of a brood site. This happens because the bees notice a problem with the larvae and remove it, or because the queen has very low productivity and lays eggs inconsistently. The February 2016 USDA study examined spermatheca from queen bees sampled from beekeepers across the country. The beekeepers had evaluated the strength of the colonies that the queens were being extracted from (good or poor health). They found that the strength of the colony seemed to correlate to percent sperm viability in the queen.

      The USDA went on to test their hypothesis that physical factors such as shipping temperatures were to blame for loss of sperm viability. This was tested in the lab by exposing mated queens to the temperature extremes that they may experience during travel (39°F and 104°F) for one, two, and four hours, and then testing sperm viability. They also ordered queens from breeders and attached devices to the cages to chart the fluctuation of temperature during travel.

      The results of this study showed that although exposure to extreme temperatures did not increase queen mortality, there was a significant loss of sperm viability. They also found that there was variability in shipping temperatures and sperm viability between breeders. So, the next time you order queens from a breeder, call them first to check how they ship their queens, or buy local so you can transport them yourself!

      Written by Emily Erickson, graduate student of Entomology at Pennsylvania State University

      Source:

      Pettis, Jeffery S., et al. “Correction: Colony Failure Linked to Low Sperm Viability in Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera) Queens and an Exploration of Potential Causative Factors.” PLOS ONE Vol. 11, Ed. 5. 2016. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147220

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      Why We Teach Outside

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      Why We Teach Outside

      The Costs of an Indoor Childhood

      Did you know that the average American child spends 7 and a half hours a day, or about 53 hours a week, indoors consuming media? Studies have found that higher media use results in lower grades in school.  An "indoor childhood" also increases the risks of asthma, diabetes, obesity, attention deficit disorders, poor eyesight, low vitamin D levels, aggressive behavior, and personal isolation. In fact, because of inactive lifestyles and increased time spent indoors, today's children may have life spans that are 3 to 5 year shorter than their parents!

      The Problems with Test-Based Education

      In 2001, the US Congress and many states chose to shift towards a “high stakes” educational approach by emphasizing student performance on standardized tests. This approach emphasizes the memorization and recitation of information, a system in which students are passive receivers rather than active participants. No emotional connection is developed between child and knowledge; and so the material is often forgotten the moment it is no longer of use.  Learning facts about the environment isn't enough to enough to make an impact on students' values or inspire them to action. In fact, learning about an environmental issue that seems too complex or too difficult to solve can intimidate children and adults alike, making them feel powerless to make a change.

      The Benefits of Outdoor Education

      However, it's not all bad! Studies show that all of these costs can be counterbalanced by the positive effects of an outdoor childhood. Children who participate in outdoor education programs receive better grades and test scores, exhibit better classroom behavior and fewer disciplinary problems, are more motivated and enthusiastic about learning, are able to concentrate for longer periods of time, and are less likely to drop out of school.  Outdoor education is particularly effective at helping under-served, low-income students perform better in school. Spending time being active outdoors also improves general physical fitness, decreases risks of obesity, and improves your immune system.  Outdoor environmental education even advances children’s emotional development! One study found that students with higher levels of environmental concern were more socially mature, responsible, conscientious and value oriented than those who showed little concern.  

      Experiential and Affective Learning Create Environmental Stewards

      We at Planet Bee, along with many of today's environmental educators, endorse experiential and affective learning.

      Experiential learning means allowing the student to have their own experiences which they then reflect on and draw conclusions from, making them active rather than passive in the learning process. Studies show that the more experiences children have in nature, the more inventive and creative they will become, and the more concerned and active about the environment they will be.

      Affective learning means cultivating an emotional or value-based link between child and knowledge. For example, when we encourage our students to love and want to protect honey bees, we are encouraging affective learning. The environmental attitudes of adults are often based on formative childhood experiences of emotional responses to nature or its destruction as well as role model parents or teachers. 

      Both types of learning allow our students to become personally invested in environmental issues, creating a lifelong impact that will transform them into environmental stewards and inspire them to take action.

      When a child like the one pictured to the right sees a bee being born with his own two eyes, he forms a bond with honey bees which he will never forget. We hope that this child and others like him, who have seen and felt the beauty of nature, will go on to lead our country towards a greener future. 

      What can I do to get outdoors? 

      Here are some ways that you, and your friends and family, can be more active in nature!

      • take a hike
      • visit a nature center
      • participate in a community clean up
      • walk to work or school
      • take part in a Citizen Science project

      Resources for teachers:

      • Invite Planet Bee to teach our Humble Honey Bee Program at your school for FREE! Sign up here
      • Find hundreds of green lesson plans online, for instance: 

      Environmental education is our future

      New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, wrote that “the school, the state, the country that empowers, nurtures, [and] enables imagination among its students is going to be the winner in the rapidly-evolving global economy of the twenty-first century.” Our planet's future depends on whether or not we can raise a green-minded generation who will take care of our environment and steer us towards a brighter tomorrow.  

      Written by Staff Writer and Planet Bee Educator Ayla Fudala

       

      Sources Cited

      Adams, Eileen “Back to Basics: Aesthetic Experience.”  Children’s Environments Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 19-29. 1991.

      Borden, R.J. and Francis, J.L. “Who cares about ecology? Personality and sex differences in environmental concern.” Journal of Personality, Vol. 46, Issue 1. March, 1978.

      Chawla, Louise. “Children’s concern for the natural environment”. Children’s Environments Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 3, p. 13–21. 1988.

      Coyle, Kevin J. “Back to School: Back Outside! Create High Performing Students.” National Wildlife Federation. September, 2010. https://www.nwf.org/pdf/Be%20Out%20There/Back%20to%20School%20full%20report.pdfGinsburg, MD, MSEd, Kenneth R., Committee on Communications, and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. “The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds.” American Academy of Pediatrics. 2000.

      Gurevitz, Rachel.  “Affective Approaches to Environmental Education: Going beyond the Imagined Worlds of Childhood?”  Ethics, Place and Environment, Vol. 3, No. 3, p. 253-268.  June, 2000.  http://wild4woodz.synthasite.com/resources/Affective%20approaches%20to%20Environmental%20Education.pdf

      Hungerford, Harold, et al. Evaluating Environmental Issues and Actions. Stipes Publishing, LLC. 2003.

      Kaiser Family Foundation. “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds”. 2010.

      Kellert, S.R. "Attitudes towards animals: Age-related development among children”. Journal of Environmental Education, V. 16, Iss. 3, p. 29-39. 1985.

      Ludwig, David S.  “Childhood Obesity: The Shape of Things to Come”. New England Journal of Medicine, p. 357-23. 2007.

      Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). “Why Teach Outside—environmental education resources.” 2016. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/education/ee/whyteachoutside.html

      Orr, David W. Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect. Island Press. 2004.

      Ramey, CT, et al. “The Predictive Power of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development and the Standford-Binet Intelligence Test in a Relatively Constant Environment.” Child Development, Vol. 44, p. 790-795. 1973.

      Read, H. Education through Art. Faber and Faber. 1945.

      State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER). “California Student Assessment Project: The Effect of Environment-based Education on Student Achievement.” 2000.

      Stein, Rob. “Millions of Children in U.S. Found to Be Lacking Vitamin D.” The Washington Post. August, 2009.

      Trudeau, F., and Shephard, R. J. “Physical education, school physical activity, school sports and academic performance.” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Vol. 5, p. 12. 2008.  

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      Native Bees and Why We Love Them!

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      Native Bees and Why We Love Them!

                                                             Bumble bee pollinating a flower

                                                             Bumble bee pollinating a flower

      Did you know that there are 4,000 different bee species native to North America? These bees vary widely, from cuckoo bees to bumble bees. Some are smaller than an eighth of an inch, while others are more than an inch long. They range in color from metallic green or blue to dark brown or black to striped red or orange. 

      Native bees are often overlooked because they aren't domesticated, or because some of them don't look like "traditional" bees (fuzzy, black and yellow). But these bees are the original residents of North America, who quietly and industriously pollinate our crops side by side with our favorite bee (can you guess which?)
       
      Native bees might not spend much time in the spotlight, but they make a huge contribution to our society. And they are struggling just as much as honey bees. Many species are endangered, and a few have already become extinct. The pesticides that harm honey bees also harm wild bees, as do parasites, pathogens, and poor nutrition due to monoculture farms. A study published by the National Academy of Sciences last year found that wild bees may be disappearing in California’s Central Valley, the Midwest’s corn belt, the Mississippi River Valley and other key farm regions. Between 2008 and 2013, modeled bee abundance declined across 23% of US land area.

      Now more than ever we must find new and innovative ways to protect these national treasures and preserve the balance of our ecosystem.
       
      Environmental stewardship is more important than ever. With a few small actions, you can make a big difference in protecting and supporting our precious pollinators. Here’s one easy way: stop using pesticides in your home gardening practice and provide a diverse food source for bees by planting flowers and keeping your grass a little longer to let clover grow in.
       
      Together, we can make a difference!

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

      Sources:

      Harvey, Chelsea. "Wild bees are dying off and need to be protected--but not for the reasons you think." June 22, 2015. The Washington Post, washingtonpost.com. 

      Koh, Insu et al. "Modeling the status, trends, and impacts of wild bee abundance in the United States." November 20,2015. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, pnas.org. 

      Moisset, Beatriz. "Native Bees of North America". November 26, 2010. Bug Guide, bugguide.net. 

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      Meet Our Hive

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      Meet Our Hive

      This summer and fall, we were thrilled to welcome 6 new worker bees to our hive! Due to your generous contributions, we took on 4 new interns from San Francisco State University, and hired 2 full-time educators. Over the course of this blog post, we'll be introducing you to each of our new staff members in turn. We hope that you'll learn to love them as much as we do!

       We’ll start off by introducing you to SFSU sophomore and new Planet Bee intern Ashley Velasquez, who proves that big things really do come in small packages!

      The daughter of refugees from El Salvador, Ashley is an extraordinary artist and Planet Bee's resident photographer and videographer. Her work with Planet Bee contributes credits towards her undergraduate degree. She is majoring in Visual Communications with a minor in Biology. Ashley's dream is to use her art to convey environmental messages. You can see one of her pieces, "Queen Bee Cross Stitch", to your right!

       I sat down with Ashley to learn more about what makes this talented artist tick.

      Q: What is your favorite part about working for Planet Bee?              

      A: I love being around kids because it reminds me to cherish all the little moments, and to look at the world through the eyes of a child. Kids always know so much more than you expect them to.

       Q: What is your favorite bee fact?       

      A: That the drones, the male bees, are completely useless (except for one thing!)

       Q: What has been your favorite day working for Planet Bee?                           

      A: My favorite work has been with Acta Non Verba Youth Urban Farm Project in Oakland. The kids are so smart and enthusiastic. I admire their work ethic and love for knowledge.

       We at Planet Bee feel so lucky to have someone as special as Ashley in our hive. We hope that you, too, are surrounded by good people for whom you feel grateful.

      You just met the smallest worker bee in our hive. Now you’ll be meeting the tallest! Shane Garvin is our Teaching Fellow and token drone.

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       An entomology major at San Francisco State University, this bug-loving mad scientist is also working towards his high school teaching credential. Shane wrote the curriculum for our new ZomBee Watch Citizen Science Program, and will soon begin teaching it in schools across Northern California! We are astonished by the research, effort, and resourcefulness Shane has put into this ground-breaking project. I interviewed this brilliant entomologist to find out why he's so dedicated to Planet Bee. 

      Q: What is your favorite part about working for Planet Bee? 
      A:  Tough question! It's got to be a tie between getting to teach so many excited kids, and getting to work with all the wonderful Planet Bee team members. Getting to interact with so many curious young minds is rewarding in of itself, and I am truly grateful to be working in an office full of like-minded, environmentally friendly individuals.

      Q: What was your favorite day working for Planet Bee?
      A:  My first time working with the kids of the Acta Non Verba program! The kids in Oakland were extremely receptive to our lessons and always dying to learn more. They were also extremely brave when it came to their own beehives, and knowledgeable about how the bees help their edible garden.

      Q: What is your favorite Bee fact? 
      A: The queen bee can lay eggs from multiple partners at once! I was so fascinated when I found out that the queen stores gametes from around a dozen different partners and produces eggs from all those different fathers. That's why there can be several different coat colorations in a single hive.

      Shane is the keystone of our team, and we feel so lucky to have him on our side! We hope that you have learned to love him as much as we do. 

      Now we’ll introduce you to one of our new interns, the incomparable Nicole Zamignani! 

      _MG_8789.png

      The daughter of Brazilian immigrants, Nicole is a senior at San Francisco State University majoring in biology major concentrating in physiology. This LA native loves both children and the environment, and is an excellent chef. After graduating next year, Nicole plans on pursuing a career as a pediatrician. I sat down with this future doctor to hear the scoop about why she loves Planet Bee. 

      Q: What is your favorite part about working for Planet Bee?
      A: My favorite part is getting to meet so many different people who all share the same interest in the environment and ecology.

      Q: What is your favorite bee fact?
      A: That they pollinate 2,000 flowers a day!

      Q: What has your favorite day working for Planet Bee been?
      A: It was really cool when we went to the Clif Bar headquarters. I liked interacting with adults and seeing that they got just as excited about bees as the kids!

      We hope that you enjoyed getting to know Nicole! Planet Bee feels fortunate to found such a passionate and intelligent worker bee. 

       It’s time to introduce you to our most experienced intern, Joelle Dugay.

      joelle.png

       

      Joelle is a senior at San Francisco State University majoring in biology with a concentration in zoology. She has an all-consuming passion for insect taxonomy, and never goes anywhere without a test tube for scooping up samples. She is the Program Manager at Planet Bee, assisting with all administrative tasks,  scheduling school visits, helping run social media and giving presentations at events - she keeps Planet Bee buzzing! I interviewed Joelle to find out what this brilliant entomologist and administrative guru loves about Planet Bee. 

      Q: What is your favorite part about working for Planet Bee?
      A: My favorite part about working with Planet Bee is seeing the enthusiasm that children and adults alike show when they learn something new about bees. Insects generally do not get a lot of love or support, but it makes me happy that people can agree that that bees are need in saving and are willing to make a difference. Also, Debra feeds me a lot of burritos and tea.

      Q: What has your favorite day working for Planet Bee been?
      A: My favorite day at Planet Bee was when I cleaned out old honey comb and discovered live varroa mites. I think parasites are fascinating in their own right.

      Q: What is your favorite bee fact?
      A: Japanese honey bees have a special defense mechanism against Asian hornets - hundreds surround a hornet and rapidly move their wing muscles. The hornet is trapped in a ball of extreme heat and high CO2 concentrations, causing eventual death.
       
      For someone with such dark tastes in scientific facts, Joelle is astonishingly sweet. Just don't get between her and one of her experiments! 

       Now we’d like to introduce you to one of our two new environmental educators, Sarah Thorson.

      Sarah headshot (1).png

      Sarah is a Bay Area native and recent graduate of Chapman University, where she earned degrees in Environmental Science and Policy and Dance. This kombucha-drinking, yoga-loving vegan's life work is to introduce environmental concepts and awareness into school curriculum, and so she is thrilled to be teaching kids about bees! A skilled teacher and experienced environmental scientist, Sarah feels most at home when she's balancing on a ball, choreographing her own modern dance pieces, or selling organic honey at a farmer's market. I sat down with this new-age wonder to see how she's liking her time with Planet Bee. 

      Q: How has your experience with Planet Bee Foundation been so far?
      A: It has been amazing! It’s extremely rewarding to visit schools and see how excited the kids are about the bees.

      Q: What has your favorite day been?
      A: My favorite day so far was when we visited the Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto. Due to its small size, we were able to teach every kid in the school, ranging from pre-K to 8th grade. I also loved the fact that they were teaching the kids based on yoga philosophy! 

      Q: What do you think is the best thing about working for Planet Bee?
      A: It’s great that we get to teach about such an important issue and raise awareness about the plight of the honeybee.

      Q: What’s a fun fact you’ve learned about bees?
      A: My favorite fact I’ve learned is the process by which a new queen bee is chosen. Six potential queens are raised on royal jelly and the first to emerge kills all the others. There can only be one!
       
      Sarah is certainly the queen bee of this hive! We feel so lucky to have this free spirit on our team. 

      Finally, we’ll pull back the curtain and introduce you to the puppetmaster behind the scenes, and the author behind these newsletters: Ayla Fudala, the second of our two new Environmental Educators.

      Ayla headshot.png

      Ayla is a Massachusetts native who graduated last May from the University of Pennsylvania, with majors in Environmental Studies and English. In the past, Ayla has worked for the EPA and USDA, and has taught creative writing to kids in New York and Hong Kong. Her spirit animal is her black cat, Sebastian, and her life's goal is to become a best-selling children's fantasy author. Ayla wants to find ways to teach children environmental stewardship through storytelling and other creative methods.

      I sat down with myself and asked myself a few questions.  

      Q: What do you like most about Planet Bee?
      A: I really love how every day is different. Every school we visit is unique, as is every fair and every company. I love getting to meet new people, and I especially love how excited kids get about the bees!

      Q: What has been your favorite day with Planet Bee so far?
      A: My favorite day was actually my very first day. Planet Bee was tabling at the Pollinator Fun Fair at Playland, and I got to teach kids and adults who visited our table all the new facts I had just learned about bees. I also got to watch an adorable kid’s pollinator costume contest. To top it off, I got interviewed by Kron 4, and was able to watch myself on TV that same night!

      Q: What is your favorite bee fact to teach?
      A: I really enjoy teaching kids the differences between female worker bees and male drones. It always turns into a hilarious sort of competition. Girls are always devastated to learn that female worker bees do all the work, and have short lifespans, but are thrilled to learn that they’re smart and make all the decisions in the hive. Boys are overjoyed to learn that drones do no work, eat twice as much as worker bees, and live much longer, but disappointed when they find out that drones are much less intelligent. There are ups and downs for each gender, and the boys and girls loving teasing one another about them. 

      I am so glad that I crossed the United States and moved to California in order to work for Planet Bee. I love my coworkers, my adorable students, and my ray-of-sunshine boss Debbie. I hope that these blog posts have helped you understand the passions and ideals that run Planet Bee, and I thank you for all of your generous contributions, which allow us to continue our work. 

      Written by Ayla Fudala
      Planet Bee Educator and Staff Writer

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