John S. Jones Elementary School Summer Program got a lesson in bees on Thursday, July 17 in Attalla during an exciting 2nd annual Bee Awareness Day as part of the “Bee a good reader” program.
Children going into kindergarten through kids entering 8th grade attended the program. John Jones Elementary School Summer Program Director Janet Page said the program has 100 enrolled students from all over Etowah County, including John Jones, Southside, Eura Brown and Westbrook.
Director of Community Education Butch Dixon, who had bees growing up, taught the students honeybee basics as they sat around a table for a full honeybee demonstration.
Dixon answered questions and instructed kids on safety while participating in activities throughout the day. He also gave a full lesson on what to do if they happened upon a beehive while playing outside.
“Don’t poke at the hive; don’t run,” he explained. “Just walk at a pace that is normal.”
After the honeybee lesson, kids were able to see and feel real beehives, watch the queen bee interact with her colony and taste real honey.
Dixon’s uncle, Pat Sherrill, has been keeping bees all his life and showed the kids how to extract honey from the honeycombs in an extraction demonstration.
Dixon explained, “The extractor is slinging honey. It will be strained twice when it comes out; this will sift and filter out any parts of honeycomb.”
Professional Development Coordinator Lynn Powell said, “[Etowah County Board of Education] President Dr. Alan Cosby allows us to do this program. It’s a good way for kids to see the bee process and it ties in with the ‘Bee a good reader program.’”
Cosby’s son Johnson Cosby attended the program and got to try on a child-size beekeeper suit.
Dixon asked the kids, “Honey bees are gentle by nature, but the only thing they have to defend themselves if you come around is what?”
As kids replied “stinger,” Dixon told the group he had just come in contact with one the night before. He said a bee stung him on the top of his ear because he began waving his arms frantically when the bee approached him while he wasn’t wearing a bee suit.
“I got stung because I was flailing my arms around everywhere,” he told them. “If you come across a swarming beehive, don’t flail your arms around. Just get away from them.”
As Dixon said, “Bees are like people; they have good days and they have bad ones.”