When thinking of bees, often what comes to mind are bee stings. They are a seemingly menacing threat to comfort. So, to prevent these stings, we share cautionary tales of bees with our children. Now, it is reasonable to steer clear of a possible sting. However, the true beauty of bees then gets lost in fear. In reality, bees are harmless, unprovoked.

Further, we owe bees greatly for the food we eat. They are unequivocally critical parts of the environment. In the local community, some share a love for bees. For example, two local beekeepers, the Roberts family, and Mrs. Joan Gardiner, share this appreciation. Their passion is to raise awareness around threats bees face, change the narrative surrounding bees, and produce natural products for the community.

The Roberts family dedicates their time to raising bees. Their passion and drive are truly admirable. The Roberts began keeping bees in 2019 in Aldie, Virginia. Their sons’ interests in insects and agriculture greatly influenced their love for bees. Their youngest son, Aris Roberts, recalls, “I have always been interested in insects since I was a little kid – my mom will even tell you how it sometimes got out of hand” (Roberts). This, along with his older brother, Soren Robert’s interest in agriculture, spurred them to “do [their] share in the world” (Roberts) any way they could. However, their passion does not stop there.

The Roberts got even more involved. At their apiary, they “have ongoing research on integrative pest management” (Roberts). This addresses the problems created by the Varroa destructor mite. The Varroa destructor mite is a mite that attacks and destroys hives. It is a dangerous threat in apiaries and the wild. Thus, there is a lot of work that goes into raising bees. Aris states that “[t]he supportive work we do follows the honeybee’s seasonal lifecycle: in the spring, we support the growth of the hive, in the summer we harvest honey, in the fall we prepare them for winter and do more intense pest management, and in the winter when the bees are tucked in, we read and prepare for the next year” (Roberts). This requires tremendous amounts of work from everyone involved. The Roberts can be seen in the bee yard for hours on end. Additionally, the Roberts produce and sell honey. They believe that is a great way to provide products to the community. 

Aris and Soren wrote a children’s book called Bizzy’s Wings to make even more impact. They wish to spread awareness of the threats bees face. Further, to reach out to a younger audience. The book is about a bee named Bizzy, “who was born with deformed wing syndrome – a disorder caused by a virus transmitted by the Varroa destructor mite” (Roberts). The book follows Bizzy’s journey of self-discovery. Aris expresses, “I wrote the book with the message in mind being, if you have faced adversity in your life and have faced backlash for being different, you should not be afraid to be yourself” (Roberts). Writing and publishing Bizzy’s Wings was very long and tedious. They faced rejection from publishers and difficulties in story composition. Luckily, they ended up self-publishing. Bizzy’s Wings can even be found on Amazon. With this book, they wish “to spread awareness about the plight of bees and specifically show how bees struggle with the Varroa destructor mite” (Roberts). The Roberts are scheduling reading events around the community to spread the book’s message, including at the Highland Lower School. Further, the Roberts are happy to read Bizzy’s Wings to anyone willing to help spread its message. 

Mrs. Joan Gardiner is also an excellent example of persistence and humanity. She is approaching her nineteenth spring taking care of hives. Her love for bees grew from her father’s passion for insects. She remarks how “[t]here was never an insect he didn’t like” (Gardiner). Thus, bees were something they could share. However, there is a lot of work that goes into raising bees. Mrs. Gardiner notes that “a lot of the work is seasonal and changes” (Gardiner). In the spring, you can find Mrs. Gardiner treating the bees for mites, splitting the hives, and feeding them. She also produces honey and sells bees. Mrs. Gardiner expresses how “comb honey is one of [her] goals” (Gardiner). Although, it is pretty challenging to get. Now, not only does Mrs. Gardiner raise bees, but she visits schools to teach about bees. Mrs. Gardiner exclaims, “I like to go into schools, especially, preschool and kindergarten…and getting people to understand not to be afraid of bees” (Gardiner). Mrs. Gardiner dedicates her time teaching young kids to look at bees differently.

Further, to understand how special they are. To do this, she puts on animated shows that illustrate the life of bees. This works to change the narrative surrounding bees. Further, to teach that the lives of bees are genuinely fascinating and critical to life. 

Overall, Mrs. Gardiner expresses “a positive image about [bees]” and wants to share her love for them.

Beekeepers like the Roberts and Mrs. Gardiner strive to save bees and raise awareness for their struggles. They even take great strides to be involved in the community. Bees, overall, are fascinating. They are also critical parts of life on earth. As a community, supporting apiaries is a great way to show support. 

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