Guest blog post by Eileen Guest.
Convincing my kids to care about bees wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I try to engage with my boys when we go outside to play. However, I constantly find myself being drawn to my garden to pull one more weed or collect one more seedhead. A typical summer night starts with everyone riding bikes in the cul-de-sac and ends with everyone gathering seedheads for next planting season.
I was sitting in my newest flower bed gathering seeds. My youngest son, who’s three, was blindly collecting marigold seeds and asked me what I was going to do with all the seeds. My answer was simply, “to plant them next year.” “No Momma, you have SO many seeds. What are we going to do with THESE seeds?” He said while pointing to the pile in his hand. So, I thought for a moment. I reminded him about how much fun they had setting up the garage sale the year before and suggested we do a seed sale this summer. My six-year-old son overheard and jumped right on board. From that moment on we were collecting as many seeds as we could and sorting them into bags.
My six-year old asked me what the best way was to get people to come buy seeds. I mentioned that people love to support a good cause and I asked them to think of some good causes that might be associate with selling seeds. After batting around several ideas, they landed on bees. I spoke briefly on why the bees needed our help and I promised them that I would look into good organizations that could use the money that we would raise.
After the kids’ bedtime, I often fold laundry and watch Ted talks on my ipad to pass the time. My love for gardening and a particularly fruitful seed harvest that night landed me on Dr. Wilson-Rich’s talk on bees and beekeeping. I realized two things that evening. I wanted to get a beehive for the yard and I knew nothing about beekeeping. I wanted to utilize the service of Dr. Wilson-Rich’s company, Best Bees. What could go wrong with a company that delivers, installs and manages the beehive monthly? I communicated with a gardener/salesperson at Best Bees. Unfortunately, even though the company extends into the Chicago region, my humble town of Champaign, IL was outside the limits of where they could install a hive. She then sent me on to check out Bee Sanctuary the partner company to Best Bees, with hopes that I might sponsor a hive. I checked it out and it was just what I was looking for, a good cause.
Two nights before the seed sale, the boys asked if we could also include baked goods for the sale. I said that we could but with such little notice, they would have to help me bake. Baking was fast and smooth, and we finished off the seed sorting in time for the sale. We put signs all over the neighborhood and even wrote messages in chalk throughout the park behind our house. All advertisements indicated that the proceeds were going to help the bees.
The evening of the sale, we ate our pizza in the driveway and helped our first customers. My six-year-old handled the finances and the three-year-old talked sweetly to passers-by. Saturday morning brought a renewed energy for selling seeds and they were ready to sell again by 7am. Saturday morning also brought our first donations. The boys were so confused as to why people would come by to just drop off money. Why didn’t they want seeds or muffins? I explained that sometimes, people want to help a good cause and want nothing in return. If people are going to feel strongly about something then they do what they can to help out. They thought about that for a while and then ran upstairs to get a few quarters of their own money for the sale.
Sometimes, you sit and think there is so much to do and not enough time in the day to do it. But if you give yourself a break, you’d see that you can make a difference in little things. We talked to neighbors about why they should care about bees and colony collapse. My boys didn’t know much about bees, but people were still interested in how they could help. Some neighbors even confessed that they didn’t know there was a bee problem. People just want to have something they can support. Trying to get your kids interested in something other than themselves is daunting. Your kids can make a difference if you keep it simple and let them know that a lot of small things add up to making a big difference. One bee can make the world a little sweeter, so can one kid.