Bee school teaches kids about sustainable food in Vancouver

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      Tricia Sedgwick would love to see beehives popping up in gardens across Vancouver.

      The founder and executive director of The World in a Garden told the Georgia Straight that the importance of honey bees cannot be overestimated.

      “They’re such an important part of our food system, and without them there’s a lot of foods that we wouldn’t have,” Sedgwick said, as bees buzzed around her at the nonprofit’s communal garden in Kerrisdale. “They pollinate over one-third of all of our food. A lot of people are scared of bees, but they don’t need to, as you can see.”

      Sedgwick is doing her part to encourage the growth of local beekeeping by organizing a bee school for kids, which started today (July 2). Over the next week, dozens of children ages 5 to 12 will take three two-hour-long workshops and then participate in a market day at the garden. The cost is $60 per kid.

      “They’re going to be learning how to manage the hives, and they’re going to learn about bee anatomy and how bees produce honey and how they pollinate,” Sedgwick said. “They’ll be learning how to harvest the honey, and then they’re going to sell it at a market at the end.”

      The World in a Garden is holding a bee school.
      Stephen Hui

      According to Sedgwick, beekeeper Markus Storhas will help the kids open up the two hives at the garden. They’ll have male honey bees walk on their hands (they don’t sting), and eat fresh honey. The kids will also learn about and harvest plants, and talk about the importance of local food and how people can contribute to a sustainable food system in the region.

      “They like the honey,” Sedgwick said. “It’s really interesting for them to have a direct experience of where honey comes from. We talk to them about the difference between store honey and honey from the hives. Our honey’s raw. We just process it right from the hives. It hasn’t been heated, so it has a lot better nutrient content.”

      The communal garden grows lettuce, kale, thyme, garlic, raspberries, apples, and more.
      Stephen Hui

      Planted and harvested communally by members paying $45 a year, the garden is located in the Arbutus rail corridor, near West 57th Avenue and East Boulevard. This fall, Sedgwick plans to open a second garden in the area.

      The World in a Garden also works on school gardens in Vancouver and Burnaby, and helped plan the new community garden at the Creekside Community Recreation Centre. In October, the nonprofit will start a school garden in Costa Rica. That will be followed by a garden in India in January 2015.

      Sedgwick noted that the bee school is part of The World in a Garden’s work to educate children and communities about growing food.

      “It really starts planting seeds, literally, for them in their young minds about how they can contribute to a more sustainable environment and a sustainable food system,” Sedgwick said. “There’s a lot of ways that they’re taking different things home with them.”