Interesting articles about our precious pollinators. 


Third-graders from Crooked River Elementary complete their study of honeybees with a field trip to a local farm

JASON CHANEY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN -

Crooked River Elementary third-graders peer into a honeybee hive at Sarah and Eric Klann's local farm. The couple are beekeepers and recently invited the students to their farm to learn more about the honeybees.

Put most third-graders next to a swarm of honey bees, they might cower in fear or run away.

But if you pull aside some of those third-graders, teach them about the insect, and instill a fascination in them, they won’t run. They will crowd around their hive, faces in close, eagerly examining the insect and questioning the intricacies of their existence.

At least that is the assumption one could draw after watching students from Crooked River Elementary visit Eric and Sarah Klann’s farm on the east edge of Prineville. About 25 third-grade advanced reading and writing students attended the Friday field trip, where they were shown several honeybee hives, including an observational one with a glass wall that reveals hundreds of bees hard at work.

Visiting several “stations” on the property, they got to hold a smoker, try on a child-size beekeeper suit, and watch bees go back and forth from pollen sources to their hive.

“It’s cool and it’s interesting,” said third-grader Korey Fowler. “I like learning about the honeybees because I never realized how important they were to the world and what they do for us, and how such a small bug can make a difference in the world and how they work together with us.”

That was all part of the plan for Sarah Klann, building coach at Crooked River Elementary, whose fascination with honey bees began with a gardening dilemma.

“I just noticed that there was a decline in honeybees and I was having a hard time with plants being pollinated,” she said, “and so I just started researching and became curious and decided to go through the OSU Master Beekeeper program.”

Curiosity gave way to her falling in love with the little insect.

“You wouldn’t think that would be possible, but I truly do love them,” she said. “They’re my girls.”

 Students check out beekeeping equipment at one of the various stations set up on the Klann farm. Kids were invited to try on beekeeping suits.

Students check out beekeeping equipment at one of the various stations set up on the Klann farm. Kids were invited to try on beekeeping suits.

Klann frequently refers to her bees as her girls as she leads students from hive to hive on the farm. The students listen carefully, their eyes wide with wonder as they witness in person what they had already studied so thoroughly.

The third-graders began researching honey bees after they agreed to design one of 13 informational kiosks that will later adorn the incoming Prineville wetland. Earlier this week, they presented the information compiled to city public works staff.

“They are thrilled,” Klann said of the students. “There is a real sense of ownership.”

But even without the kiosk project driving an interest in honey bees, Klann hopes to foster a curiosity in the insect with the upcoming generation.

Funded by a Facebook Community Action grant last year, she and her husband were able to add a fenced-off quarter-acre pollinator and foraging garden to their farm. Featuring two wooden box hives, painted bright yellow, the area fills with colorful wildflowers each summer, enticing honeybees and other pollinators like hummingbirds and moths.

The intent of the addition, Klann explained, was to provide a place for children to learn about honeybees. So far, several student groups have made a trip to the farm and others are expected to follow in the months and years ahead.

“What I wanted to do was model to other people the idea that it’s not too hard to plant for the bees, that we need to plant for the bees and just teach children the importance of pollinators,” Klann said. “I believe we can all leave a legacy somehow, and if my legacy can be that I teach our future generation the importance of taking care of Earth and pollinators and having fun doing it, then I have accomplished something, I hope.”