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3501 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC, 20002
United States

202-245-2709

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Guest Spotlight: Bee Keeping and its Importance to Gardening

Crystal Williams

by Jackie Edwards

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At least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollination to spread and thrive, making bees an important part of any gardener´s life. From the delicious, antioxidant-filled honey that bees produce to the pollinating they do all over the world to ensure we have enough food to eat and sell, bees are an important aspect to our ecosystem. Learning the importance and interesting aspects of beekeeping as part of a gardening activity is a great way to teach our Washington kids more about their own role within the ecosystem and how to make the world a better place.

The importance of Bees in Our Ecosystem

Three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators. Bees work hard to pollinate these plants in order for humans to have food, but for wild animals as well. Many natural wild animals in Washington such as raccoons, bears, squirrels and more depend on pollinators just as much as humans do. And, last but not least, with improved pollination management, crop yields could be increased by about 25%, meaning that your garden can grow faster and healthier. This is a great way to encourage children to continue gardening as they will see the fruit of their labor even faster.

More Opportunities to Increase Learning

One study showed that children who participated in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not. By incorporating other learning objectives into the gardening experience, such as learning about the importance and life cycle of bees to our environment, children can learn while engaging in an activity that is helpful to the world around them. Take advantage of the fresh air to open their curious minds while incorporating other fun activities such as bee-friendly recipes, photo journal book creations, wildflower scavenger hunts and maybe even an environmental-friendly PSA that you can let the kids write and film themselves.

How to Get Started

Before you go anywhere near a beehive with kids for the first time, make sure they understand the importance of slow movements and staying calm. It might be a good idea to have them watch a silly bee movie beforehand so they understand that bees are friendly and not scary. You will also need to ensure you have the proper bee safety equipment on hand. From protective clothing to gloves and a proper hat, this will not only ensure their safety but also allows them to feel more protected the first few times they interact with the bees. As far as choosing a beehive, try to purchase bees from a breeder who is known for breeding calm bees.

The Future of Bees in the Hands of the Youth

Time spent gardening is a great way for children to disconnect from their digital world and engage in activities that foster communication and teamwork skills. Incorporating a beekeeping lesson or activity into your daily gardening routine and you will find that your children might feel an increased sense of responsibility as they continue to learn more about the interconnections of bees and the environment. This will help to raise ecologically conscious children that can better understand and contribute to the world later on in life.

What Did You Learn in the Garden Today?

Education Manager

SPROUT kids of all ages have been hard at work this season. They’ve played and explored on Washington Youth Garden field trips all summer long. Here are some of their answers to the question, “What did you learn in the garden today?”

“I learned to touch gently to living things and to respect them”

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“I learned how to pick fruits”

“I learned that some carrots are purple”

“I learned that things taste more fresh when picked on the spot”

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“I learned that flowers start as seeds”

“I learned that girl honey bees are workers and boys are drones”

“I learned that some plants have a good smell”

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Stay tuned! We can't wait to share more answers to the question, “What did you learn in the garden today?” 

What's Growing in Saturday Patch Right Now?

Education Manager

The Saturday Patch kids have been hard at work. They’ve filled planters with a mix of WYG compost and organic potting soil, working one small bucket-full at a time. They’ve also toted those buckets back and forth from the garden spigot, and watered their very own seeds. 

In the Patch right now, we have sungold tomato plants producing bright orange fruits. We have zinnias already blooming in various colors, unphased by the occasional groundhog munchings. Not far behind are the wildflower seedlings, gearing up to surprise us with the many shades they have in store. We also noticed our tiny basil sprouts spilling out of their burlap home so we transplanted them into a pot. This weekend, we planted carrots a nice deep pot, and gathered our first-ever tomato harvest. 

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If you’d like to be a Saturday Patch kid, come on down to the Youth Garden to participate in this free, walk-in program. We’d be happy to have you. 

Best wishes from the garden! 
Emma (Patch Keeper)