The Chan family owns 10 honeybee hives. This past summer, the colonies produced 600 jars of honey.
That’s a lot of honey.
Eagle Scout Rico Chan with Troop 7 in Grapevine, Texas, had an idea of what to do with all that sweet stuff.
This past summer, he shared the idea with Save the Children, a humanitarian organization that helps feed hungry children around the world. He would conduct a fundraiser at school, offering jars of honey in exchange for donations to Save the Children.
He aimed to raise $5,000, creating a QR code that people could scan and go directly to the organization’s website to donate. He met that goal. Afterward, Save the Children featured him on the cover of its summer “What’s Up” newsletter.
The fundraiser hasn’t been the only way Rico has shared his hobby.
Abuzz with interest
Rico’s family was introduced to beekeeping a few years ago through Chris Coy, a Scouter in his troop. Coy gave a presentation during a meeting, and the family was interested. Beekeeping used to be a merit badge, available from 1911 through 1995. Interest in it dwindled, leading to its discontinuation; however, Scouts can still learn about the art of beekeeping through the Insect Study and Nature merit badges.
“Taking care of bees is nothing like taking care of goats or other animals,” says Rico, who recently turned 18. “Beekeeping is cultivating an entire society of animals, which have their own hierarchy, customs and sweet products.”
Handling insects armed with a stinger can be intimidating, but Rico learned some tricks, the primary of which is mental.
“I always remind myself that as long as I stay calm and do what I need to do, the bees won’t be able to sting me in my bee suit,” he says.
Dispelling others’ similar fears became another goal for Rico after the agriculture elective teacher at his school asked him to give a beekeeping presentation.
“This presentation evolved into me inviting my class to my house where I would give live demonstrations on how to care for bees and how to harvest honey,” he says. “All my classmates enjoyed learning about bees and enjoyed the honey they harvested even more.”
He’s also taught for his troop.
Getting into beekeeping
Rico recommends anyone interested in beekeeping to seek advice from a local beekeeper or your state beekeeping association. Many beekeeping clubs exist around the country that could connect you to resources or chances to work with someone’s hive.
“There’s no better way to learn about beekeeping than through hands-on experience,” Rico says. “Beekeeping courses are also very popular and can teach you everything about bees. Bees and the intricacies of their hives is a fascinating subject everyone should get to know.”
An important precaution is ensuring you and everyone else around you does not have a bee allergy. Anyone who is allergic to bees should not handle them, Rico says.
Another precaution is staying hydrated and taking breaks when needed, he says. To help bees stay calm, make deliberate actions and use a handheld smoker, which puffs smoke onto the bees, making them less hostile and less active for a short time.
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