Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 18, 2017

Students abuzz with interest in new hobby

By DIANE VANCE | Feb 26, 2013
Photo by: DIANE VANCE Some of the students taking an evening bee keeping class in Cory Klehm’s classroom at Fairfield Middle School include, from left Jackson Weaton, Joy Westercamp who helped present the class, Gabrielle Godwin-Webster, holding a framed, plastic brood sheet, Keefe Thornton and Reese Klehm. Behind Godwin-Webster and Thornton is a wooden hive box to demonstrate how the framed sheets fit into the boxes.

A student’s interest in growing a better crop in the family garden led to a bee-keeping course Monday evenings in February at Fairfield Middle School.

FMS science teacher Cory Klehm and his family sell their garden produce at Fairfield’s Farmers Market and sixth grader Reese Klehm became interested in learning more about bee pollination and garden production.

“At one of the Farmers Market days, Reese talked with a bee keeper,” said Corey Klehm. “As he got interested, I became interested.”

Vern Ramsey, a beekeeper in Birmingham, had been a regular speaker in Klehm’s classes, giving a brief presentation about plants and pollination each fall.

Ramsey, a member of Iowa’s Honey Producers Association and Southeast Iowa Bee Keepers, brought an empty honey bee hive box, instructional videos and family members for the evening classes, held 6-8 p.m. on four Mondays.

“We’ve had seven to 13 students attend more than one Monday and 19 students at one class,” said Corey Klehm. “It’s a whole-family process. The timing is not the best, so many activities are going on, but students who’ve attended have been very attentive and engaged.”

Parents often stayed at class, learning alongside their student about bee keeping.

Reese Klehm said his initial interest in bees actually stemmed from his fear of bees.

“I decided to learn more about bees because I was afraid of them,” he said. “I learned about pollination, and I love to eat honey, especially on biscuits.”

Jackson Weaton, another sixth grader, said he attended the evening classes because his family has a garden and he’s interested in bees.

“I want to join as many school activities as possible,” said fifth grader Gabrielle Godwin-Webster. “I liked seeing the frames with bees.”

Assisting the Ramseys in presenting information about bee keeping was Joy Westercamp, a 13-year old in her third year of bee keeping. With a PowerPoint Monday, Westercamp led students through a question and answer learning session on the last night of class.

“Keeping bees is fun and educational,” she told the class. “I started a few years ago. It’s been interesting learning about the socialization of bees and their classifications.

“Mr. Ramsey is my mentor. I’ve learned how to take care of bees and what to watch out for.”

Keefe Thornton, a fifth grader, said he’s interested in keeping bees himself.

“I think it would be fun,” he said.

Third grader Emma Clubb attended the evening classes along with her sixth grade sister, Hannah Clubb and their father.

“I wanted to start something new,” said Hannah Clubb. “My family is thinking about keeping a hive, now. I thought it would be a nice hobby. We have a garden and honeybees help with the crop to have a better outcome. My dad’s watched the videos, too, so I think we could do it.”

Emma Clubb said she also found bees interesting and how pollination helps plants.

Caleb Heisel, a fifth grader, said he’d like to have a hive.

“The drone bees are the lazy bees,” he said. “They eat up the food and don’t work.”

In her PowerPoint, Westercamp talked about feeding the bees in fall and winter.

“We buy big bags of sugar and mix it with water,” she said. “I use a power drill with a mixer attached to stir the syrup in 5-gallon buckets.”

Fifth grader Jaidann Dille said she attended the class because her cousins in Nebraska raise bees and she wanted to learn more about bee keeping.

“I want to start a hive,” she said. “This class taught me about diseases bees can get.”

Westercamp has bottled honey with the comb and sold it, another part of the project she’s enjoyed.

She was named Princess of Southeast Iowa Bee Keepers Association, and as such, she attends programs and classes with Ramsey and assists in presentations.

The Southeast Iowa Bee Keepers Association selects an interested youth each year to mentor, and bestows a gift of bee keeping supplies and a starter bee colony, a package worth $400. Westercamp got started in bee keeping in this way.

The 2013 youth selected for mentoring is Reese Klehm, who will be given supplies and bees, along with 29 years of experience from Ramsey.


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