The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 7, 2014

Respect the bees: Danville Primary School students celebrate pollinators

By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News

— DANVILLE — Nathan Stine held a carpenter bee for the first time.

The 8-year-old knew it wouldn’t sting because it was a male, according to Alex Surcica, of Shippsensburg, who has been participating in the Pollinator Party at the Danville Primary School for four years.

“He tickles. It’s neat,” Nathan said of the bee.

Touching another male carpenter bee for the first time was Carter Heath, 8, who described the experience as “cool.”

He and other second-graders attended the party, in its fifth year. Two hundred students learned the importance of bees, bats, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.

They rotated among stations, including a bumblebee hive, a bee tea, a monarch butterfly migration, planting a pollinator friendly plant and writing poems about pollinators.

A parent volunteer also brought in a honeybee hive.

“Every fourth bite of food comes from a pollinator,” said Montour County Penn State Master Gardener Harriett Perez who was among those planning the party.

She said colony collapse disorder remains a major problem among honey bees.

“Students are learning how important pollination is by bees, butterflies, flies, bats and monarchs,” she said.

The 10 second-grade teachers, master gardeners and volunteer parents participated.

Surcica brought his bumblebee hive attached to a tube where the bees flew outside and came back with remnants of pollen for the children to inspect.

He also brought along male carpenter bees for students to hold and to pet.

Second grade teacher Jennifer Berry-Propst sported antenna and butterfly wings at the butterfly migration station where students also wore antennas and demonstrated how butterflies use their proboscis to draw in nectar.

The students traveled through a monarch migration from Canada to Mexico with only one in five surviving the trip. Along their journey, they were handed obstacles such as encountering an ice storm.

Among the monarchs who survived were Cate Inglis and Kyla Drumheller, both 7.

At a bee tea, children sampled treats made from honey such as honey oatmeal cookies, honey cake, honey mustard, honey ice cream and honey tea.

They planted a zinnia seed to produce a pollinator friendly flower which is sought after by pollinators for its nectar. The students got to take home their seeds in pots.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.