Where can you find 5,000 bees?



WINCHESTER — The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum will buzz with activity as guests swarm in this weekend to celebrate its 21st anniversary and a new exhibit.

The anniversary celebration is slated for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the museum at 19 W. Cork St. Tickets are $8 for non members and free for members.

At the celebration, museum staff will unveil the new exhibit, Pollinator Plaza, which features approximately 5,000 bees in a glass-walled habitat. Guests will be able to view the bees as they climb around their honeycombs. A glass tube leads from the hive to outside of the building so the bees can search for food and bring it back. Pollinator Plaza is located on the second floor of the museum.

“As with all our exhibits, there is a hands-on interactive [component], and with [Pollinator Plaza] there are several,” said Ryan Hall, coordinator of marketing and membership at the museum.

On an interactive exhibit poster, children can move magnetic graphic pollen from the poster’s flowers to a drawing of a beehive to show how a bee would do the same. The exhibit will also feature four types of anatomically correct stuffed animal bees, including a worker bee, drone, queen bee and larvae.

Children can also play with a set of bee puppets and crawl in and out of hexagon-shaped tubes that resemble a honeycomb. A set of dance steps placed on the floor in front of a mirror will let guests practice their “waggle dance.” This dance is the way bees communicate to let other bees know where to find food.

“It’s a fun, goofy way to act like a bee,” Hall said.

The tiny pollinators were provided by the Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah. Members of the club will perform regular maintenance of the hive to include collecting honey and making sure the bees are adapting well to their new home. The bees will be taken to an apiary off site to ensure none escape into the museum.

The local beekeepers club will also give occasional presentations at the museum while the exhibit is installed. Hall said they expect to have the bees for the next two years.

Pollinator Plaza is currently in stage one. The museum is raising funds — with a goal of $2,500 — to add more features to the exhibit. Adam Foizen, exhibit developer, said possible additions may include a microscope projected on a television to give guests a closer look at the hive, as well as a virtual reality program to simulate the life of a bee.

The museum has been working toward adding the bee exhibit for about a year.

National Honey Bee Day is celebrated at Sky Meadows State Park

Park Visitors learn about bees and their importance

DELAPLANE,VA - National Honey Bee Day is a fairly new holiday that  beekeepers enjoy and appreciate.

Local beekeepers gathered at Sky Meadows State Park to celebrate this morning  Ramona Morris and her husband have been bee keepers for twelve years and are members of Beekeepers of The Northern Shenandoah who care for the honeybees at sky meadows state park. 

"Bees are so interesting you never get bored because your always learning something new." Ramona Morris of Beekeepers of The Northern Shenandoah says. 

Ramona says many people don't realize that bees make a lot more than honey.

"Go to the grocery store and look at all the groceries there you will see all sorts of beautiful fruits and vegetables, without the bees, we would have maybe a third amount of that food." Morris says. 

National Honey Bee Day at the park allowed visitors to witness honey extraction, learn about beekeeping, bees,  and why their existence is a vital part of the eating experience right here in the valley. 

BONS Members Interviewed

"Apples , I mean bees are brought into apple orchards in this area, for the pollination, there would be no able crop without them." Randy Jackson of beekeepers of The Northern Shenandoah says. 

Beekeeper Branson Mckay cares for 25 hives, and says most people think they cant get into beekeeping because of location or lack of space. He says many people would be surprised to learn that beekeepers are located in cities like Washington D.C and its surrounding areas. 

"They're in cities all over the place, it doesn't take much space, it takes a little bit of time, and a desire, to be a part of something that's incredible."Mckay says. 

There are over 150 thousand honeybees here at sky meadows state park and today bee keepers were able to extract over 40 pounds of honey from their hives. 

Up to 30 thousand bees can live in one hive, beekeeper Randy Jackson says keeping them  is a lot of work, but the bees do most of it. He says hes hopeful that those who attend national honeybee day programs leave motivated to help save them. 

"When you have all these people that come to this they're going to be planting plants for the bees, they're going to stop using pesticides and herbicides, that's going to help the environment, not just the bees, that helps all of us." Jackson says. 

 Although national honeybee day is held one day each year, beekeepers urge the public to be mindful of them all year long.