National Honey Bee Day

Yesterday – August 17th – was National Honey Bee Day. Okay this is in the USA but, hey, I think honey bees are worth celebrating so I’m considering it a day here in Canada too! So with that in mind I packed up the 3 kids for a day of honey bee adventuring. And how exactly does one get kids to spend a day playing among bees? We are very fortunate to live within driving distance of a pretty cool – in fact brilliant in my humble opinion – honey bee farm that has turned itself into a magical bee-themed play place for kids.

A field of sunflowers.

Clovermead is in Southwestern Ontario and is owned by a 3rd generation beekeeping family who has turned their passion for bees into a safe and fun place where kids can explore, run, jump, laugh and just bee wild! They have little ride-on tractor toys, pedal carts, jumping pillows, and zip lines. There are play structures made out of an old fire truck, and wooden ones that look like a train and Noah’s ark. The kids had a great time crawling through tunnels and secret passageways in a huge wooden fort. They jumped on burlap sacks and zoomed down on a hilltop slide. They laughed as they took turns being hamsters in giant hamster wheels and thoroughly enjoyed playing in the huge soybean pit where they could dig and dive in the beans (we shook them out after getting out but I still found a couple dozen beans in their laundry pile last night!). And of course the splash pad, with the enormous bucket that tips over to soak them in one huge splash, is always a hit. It is paradise for the kids and all three of my kids, with age ranging from 2 to 9, had an absolute blast.

Honey Bee busy working on a thistle. You can see the pollen that collects on her body – she will groom it into her honey baskets on her hind legs to transport back to the hive.

And while the kids were busy playing I got to enjoy some time watching the bees, who were busily working the flowers that are planted everywhere. I even had the pleasure of walking a few feet into a field of sunflowers – always an amazing sight. And it wasn’t only honeybees I saw, but some bumbles, butterflies, wasps and even two species of bee that I didn’t recognize! The farm does a great job incorporating bees throughout, and you can go and watch the bees in the large glass observation hive. They also give “meet the beekeeper” tours where kids and adults alike can learn about bees and beekeeping. I am happy to see such a place exists – a place that can help make bees not only less scary, but can also teach kids about their vital importance. As we headed home, with the kids all peacefully quiet and tired out, I was happy we had chosen to spend the day out celebrating the honey bee.

Bumble bee on Queen Anne’s Lace.
I believe this bee belongs to the Megachilidae family, which includes the leaf cutters and mason bees, based on the fact that the pollen is being collected on the abdomen.
A Limenitis arthemis butterfly on Hydrangea.
I do not know what species of bee this is but it was fun to watch! If anyone recognizes it please let me know.

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