For The Love Of Bees

Bug Squad    BY Kathy Keatley Garvey     September 5, 2017

Sarah the Bee Girl stands in front of a cluster of first graders sitting by a six-foot worker bee sculpture in the UC Davis Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven.

Her name is Sarah Red-Laird, and she is here to present an interactive educational program involving bees and beekeeping, honey, beeswax and bee habitat to students from Peregrine School, Davis. It's part of her "Bees and Kids" program, funded by the American Beekeeping Federation's Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees.

She's speaking to them as part of the Western Apicultural Society's 40th annual conference, Sept. 5-8.

The students are super excited.

Holding up fruit after fruit, she asks if they like strawberries, apples, oranges and lemons, all bee-pollinated. They eagerly raise their hands. She tells them that bees are responsible for providing one-third of the food we eat, including fruits, vegetables and nuts (almonds). Our shopping carts would be sparse if there were no bees, she says. She quizzes them about grapes, rice and oats, which are not bee-pollinated.

Then she turns to honey.

"How much honey does a bee make in her lifetime?" she asks. "Is it 1 cup, 1 teaspoon or 1/12th of a teaspoon?  if you think it's one cup, raise your hand." Half a dozen hands shoot up.

"If you think it's one teaspoon, raise your hand." A few more raise their hands.

"If you think it's 1/12th of a teaspoon, raise your hand." One person responds.

"The correct answer," says Sarah the Bee Girl, "is 1/12th of a teaspoon. That's how much a honey bee makes in her lifetime."

"I guessed that!" yells a little girl.

"Did you?" Sarah asks, approvingly. "You're a smartie," she praises.

"We didn't," a boy laments.

A honey bee seeking drips from the bottled honey at the "Kids and Bees" honey-tasting event. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)Sarah drives home the point with: "That means that honey bees work really, really hard for the honey we eat. For me, I eat it every day."

Sarah continues. "How many flowers does it take the bees to make one pound of honey?" she asks, holding up a jar of honey.

The students respond with answers that range from 99 to 100 to 200 to 1000 to 2000 to 8000 to 1 billion.

"The correct answer is 2 million," she tells them. "it takes 2 million flowers to fill this one jar of honey."

Sarah drives home the point with: "The best thing to do to help bees is to plant flowers. Let's say it all together. what can you do to help bees?

"Plant flowers!" they chorus.

Later she reads a book and then asks them to answer questions about nurse bees, house bees, scout bees, guard bees, queen bees, foragers and drones. Each person who answers the question correctly is adorned with props depicting that bee.

The first graders love it! They gigle, laugh and cheer.

Next they move in small groups to the educational stations where they taste honey, learn about bee habitat and bees wax, and see honey bees and other bees up close.

It's obvious that Sarah loves bees and wants others to love them, too.

Sarah says her love of bees began in Southern Oregon, on the deck of her aunt's cabin, at the end of a country road. She received her degree, with honors, in resource conservation from the University of Montana and did research in Jerry Bromenshenk Honey Bee Lab. She presented her beekeeping findings at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research on "How to Keep 100,000 Girlfriends, the Careful Relationship of a Beekeeper and Her Honey Bees."

This first-grader got a good luck at a Valley carpenter bee, caught by Robbin Thorp in a special device and then released. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Today she's the program director of the American Beekeeping Federation's "Kids and Bees" Program and executive director of Bee Girl, a nonprofit organization: its mission is to inspire and empower communities to conserve bees, their flower and our food system.  She serves as the Oregon director of the Western Apicultural Society, a member of the New York Bee Sanctuary Advisory Board, and the regional representative to the Southern Oregon Beekeepers' Association. She is also a "Mountainsmith Brand Ambeesador."  See her work on FacebookInstagram and Twitter (@sarahBeeGirl). Her hashtag is #loveyourbees.

Among the UC Davis personnel assisting her at the haven were:

Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology,  UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who caught and released bees with a device that included a magnifying glass

Staff research associates Bernardo Niño of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., Honey Bee Research Facility/UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who staffed the beeswax table, where children drew pictures with crayons

Staff research associate and Charley Nye of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., Honey Bee Research Facility/UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who staffed the  habitat table, where the children learned about where the bees live.

Zoe Anderson, a UC Davis undergraduate student majoring in animal biology, assisted with the honey tasting. The youths all agreed they liked Sarah's vetch honey the best.

First graders, school officials and parents from Peregrine School cluser around a bee sculpture at UC Davis Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee for a “Kids and Bees” program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Sarah the Bee Girl reads a book about bees. In back are WAS members Cyndi and Jim Smith of Donney Lake, Wash. Cyndi serves as the secretary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Sarah the Bee Girl outfits a first grader with a forager costume for correctly answering a question about foragers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey) View more images:

ABF Webinar: Next Generation Beekeepers Initiative

Next Generation Beekeepers Initiative 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT / 6:00 p.m. MT / 5:00 p.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. AKST / 3:00 p.m. HST
Sarah Red-Laird, a.k.a Bee Girl, ABF Kids and Bees Program Director; and Zac Browning, co-owner of Browning Honey Co. Inc. 

Join Sarah Red-Laird and Zac Browning in this live, interactive webinar to discuss issues, solutions, and consequences of inaction in the beekeeping industry.

What's a "Next Generation Beekeeper"? “Next Gen” is defined as, “The step forward that perpetually propels us into our impending destiny.” We are the next generation in our family of beekeepers, we are the drivers of the next stage of development in the products, services, expertise, and knowledge our industry provides. This beekeeper is a commercial or small scale beekeeper, or works as an educator or researcher. They are passionate about bees, and want to be involved in future beekeeping innovation, research, policy, technology, advocacy, or community leadership. In the near future, we need a functional model of collaboration and diversification. You tell us what that needs to be done, we’ll listen and help to develop a positive action plan. 

Please log in to your ABF membership account and visit the 'Conversation with a Beekeeper Webinar Series" section of the website to register for this webinar.


Event Page:

Bee-Girl to LACBA: SO Much Love!

"SO much love going out to the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association for their donation to keep our programs going!! These folks know a thing or two about generosity and bee love!" Sarah Red-Laird, Executive Director, Bee-Girl Organization. 

(Note: It is through the efforts of members of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association who volunteered their time at the Bee Booth at the Los Angeles County Fair to raise money in support of honey bees, bee research and education. Thank you also to the LACBA membership who voted to provide funding for the Bee-Girl programs. Read more about Bee-Girl Organization

Kids and Bees Resources, Just for You From The Bee-Girl

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: This year the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association is honored to host Hayden Wolf, the 2015 American Honey Princess, at the LA County Fair Bee Booth. Hayden will be joining us from September 21-27. Come meet this beautiful princess and learn about honey bees! The booth will be abuzz with activies, beautifuly photography, and a real live Honey Bee Observation Hive. Come find the Queen Bee and meet the American Honey Princess! There's so much to learn about bees - and it's so much fun!

A Problem Adequately Stated is a Problem Solved: The Next Gen Beekeepers Initiative

Bee-Girl    By Sarah Red-Laird    April 14, 2015

The latest numbers from a Bee Culture survey show beekeepers under forty years old making up a mere eight percent of our industry.  What’s more, a January 23rd article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “More Beekeepers Sour on Profession as Winter Die-Offs Continue,” is an all-too familiar sentiment moving through the beekeeping industry.  That’s not great news, as the future is upon us and the time is now to ensure the survival of our livelihood and passion.  This is, however, an exciting time to be a beekeeper.  Society, government, science, and the food industry have their eyes turned to us and are poised to offer support, perhaps more generously than any time in modern history.  So what do we do?

Read more at Bee-Girl Blog-Next Gen Beekeepers

Kids and Bees Resources, Just For You

A student catches bees in the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, California.

American Beekeeping Federation e-buzz  April 2015


Kids and Bees Resources, Just For You
By Sarah Red Laird


Engaging kids in the wonderful world of bees has probably never been so popular! Teachers, home school groups, and clubs are really realizing the potential of educating kids about math, science, engineering, technology, and the arts using the bee hive. Have you been asked to do a talk or a program to a group of kids, and aren’t sure where to start? Do you already lead a kids’ program, but are looking for new and fresh ideas? Then this article is for you! I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorite resources for you.


Edible School Yard

“Bees in the Edible Schoolyard: With Hives”

 In this lesson, students study bees in the garden and the important role of pollinators through three stations: beehive; catch, observe, and release; honey tasting. Students will be able to feel comfortable around honey bees and native bees in the garden, and explain the benefits of having a hive in the garden. Read More.


“Bees in the Edible Schoolyard: No Hive”

 In this lesson, students discuss bees and the important role of pollinators. They then catch and observe bees in the garden. Students will be able to state at least two facts about bees and pose a relevant question. They will be also be able to describe the process of pollination and how it relates to plant reproduction and food production. They will execute catching and releasing a bee safely in the garden.

They will also explain the role that bees play in the garden and exhibit appropriate behavior around bees. Learn More.



 The BEEWORLD Project is an innovative new program that builds a network of schools and communities across the world taking practical action to protect and conserve bees. The project raises awareness of the role of bees, issues affecting them, honey research and the need to connect with and shape their own environment through creating bee-friendly spaces. Through interactive mapping and social media, our education pack, website and bee-related conservation events in communities / schools, the project will create a real “buzz” around bees – and a global network of relevant bee-friendly habitat. Read More.


The Bee Girl Organization

The Bee Girl mission is to inspire and empower communities to conserve bees and their habitat. Bee Girl’s website hosts the page for the American Beekeeping Federation’s Kids and Bees Program. Visit this page for a history of the program, upcoming events, and even more resources. Learn More.


The Pollinator Partnership

The Pollinator Partnership’s mission is to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research. Their “Education” page under “Useful Resources” is chock-full of curricula, educational tools, cool facts, activities, and more to teach our kids about bees and other important pollinators. Read More.


Kids and Bees on Social Media

Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook! These pages are managed by myself and Tim Tucker, ABF President. We scout out great articles, pictures, stories, and teaching ideas for you, and post them almost every day! Like, follow, comment, share, and keep our community buzzing! 


If you have any resources I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear about them. Please send me an email at Until next time, have fun and bee safe!


ABF Webinar: Conversation With a Beekeeper" April 7, 2015

American Beekeeping Federation

Don't miss another "Conversation with a Beekeeper" webinar. Tuesday, April 7, Sarah Red-Laird, better known as the Bee Girl, will discuss "Conserving Honey Bees by Sharing the Love with the Littlest Community Members." Sparking an interest for our honey bees in the “next generation” is imperative in the survival of our industry. Sarah Red-Laird, the Bee Girl and ABF’s Kids and Bees director, has developed an open source strategy for engaging preschool through college-aged youth. Join this entertaining webinar to hear about her adventures in the US and beyond, garner some tips for your own kids’ program, or maybe get inspired to launch your own program to conserve our favorite charismatic minifauna. Come join your fellow beekeepers at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time this coming Tuesday. It is FREE for ABF members.

On the Flow Hive

Bee-Girl    By Sarah Red-Laird   February 18, 2015

The Flowwwwww Hive! Its the latest bee hive design taking the internet by storm! So here's my two cents: First, I think it's very pretty and I think the father son team that developed it are adorable. Will it revolutionize beekeeping as we know it and release bees from our medaling to feed the world a healthy sugar alternative? I mean, is it "scalable"? I don't think so. However, is this a possible fun gadget to add to your backyard apiary, see how it works? Totally! 

But.......... here's my Debbie Downer red flag: ROBBING (when hungry bees attack an open honey source in a violent, angry, horde). If your honey flow is epic and nectar is more then prolific, robbing may not be an issue. However, as I sit here writing this, in a pickup truck waiting on an almond grower, in Bakersfield, CA - I'm surrounded by drought, lack of diverse forage, and soon to be hungry bees. I just keep thinking about lack and hunger and robbing. And the whole West, and how hot and dry and flowerless it's becoming. So. Would I use this hive and risk ensuing the horde that would result? Nope. 

But if you live in a land of plenty, experiment away - but please don't forget to think about the bees first in your beekeeping adventures. 

I also want you to consider a couple more thoughts in this new potential hobby.  Do we really need beekeepers in all of the backyards?  And do you want to be a beekeeper, or a bee reaper?  

Honey bees are awesome.  They are a joy, they do amazing work, and they also have stingers.  One percent of the population will have a systemic anaphylactic reaction when they are stung.  That is one out of every one hundred people.  How do people get stung?  Yes, by being an idiot and swatting at them.  But also by sitting on one, grabbing a gardening tool where one is resting, or taking a swig of soda that a bee may have nosedived into.   

Bees can also become aggressive and sting for “no reason” when there is turmoil inside the hive.  This could be an infestation of the Varroa destructor mite, aggressive wasps picking off their babies, or the common neighborhood four legged hive terrorizers: skunks and raccoons.  This is where the difference between “bee havers” and “beekeepers” comes in.  

Keeping bees, and keeping bees alive and healthy is harder than it has been then any time in modern history.  I already mentioned Varroa and mammal pests.  But oh… let me count the other ways: Nosema ceranae, Nosema apis, Israeli acute paralysis virus, black queen cell virus, hairless black bee syndrome, acute bee paralysis virus, deformed wing virus, sacbood, chalkbrood, stonebrood, American foulbrood, European foulbrood, IIV6.  Oh wait.  And then there are pesticide poisonings, chilled brood, dysentery, starvation,  and as I mentioned above, extreme weather. 

So what’s your plan to manage your bees and make sure these animals you have decided to adopt are cared for?  What is your strategy?  Denial and neglect are not a strategy. 

One last thought.  It takes about 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey. What does your neighborhood look like?  Is there enough for the honey bees, and also for their native polinator cousins? 

If you feel called to beekeeping – awesome!!  If its because you want to be a beekeeper.  If it’s because you saw a cool thing on Youtube where you can get free pancake syrup, don’t even.        

For further thoughts, here's a write up from my friends at ANU in Australia.  

Visit Bee-Girl:!Oh-the-Flow-Hive/cswu/54fe35a80cf2458597907506

[Note: Sarah, Thank you for this insightful, informative, bee-care-full take on the Flow Hive. Kudos to you Sarah, keep up the great work! Webkeeper!!]

Kids 'n Bees: Kids and Bees and Disneyland

Bee Girl   From Sarah Red-Laird  December 17, 2014

The "Kids and Bees" event is right around the corner, and I am hoping you can help me with a couple of things? 
  • We need volunteers to help on the day of the event.  Duties consist of managing activity table to help kids with activities such as beeswax candle rolling, microscopes, almond shelling, face painting, honey tasting etc.
  • We need to get the word out about the event to local kids (Classrooms, homeschool groups, 4-H'ers, Girl and Boy Scouts, etc.).  
Exciting news!  Bee Girl and the American Beekeeping Federation are coming to the Disneyland Resort, for the annual North American Conference and Tradeshow January 6th-10th.  From 9:00 am till noon on the morning of Friday the 9th we are hosting a"Kids and Bees" event to engage the local community.  
For registering as a volunteer, or a student group - please contact me at or 541-708-1127.  Thank you!! 
This no-cost event has been a tradition with the ABF conference for over 20 years, and is a "don't miss" opportunity for school groups, home schooled kids, scouts, and clubs. Kids and their teachers or parents can expect a room full of hands-on activities under the themes of, “The Art of Beekeeping,”  “The Science of Beekeeping,” “The World of Beekeeping,” and “The Future of Bees: It’s Up to You!”  Favorites such as beeswax candle rolling, bee finger puppet making, and hive displays will be there.  The highlights this year will be face painting, a photo booth with costumes, and an ultraviolet “Bee View” demonstration.  Students will make their way through each station, engaging with beekeepers and Honey Queens from around the US, and activities that will harness their senses and imaginations.  

Click this link for a video by the LA Farm Bureau of a similar program from earlier this year in New Orleans!

See the Press Release for more information.  
And for more information, join our Facebook event page, or to register your children or students for the January 9th free program, please contact Sarah Red-Laird at or 541-708-1127.   
Please share this information with your community asap, space is limited - but it's our goal to bring as many students as we can to learn about our bees!
Sarah Red-Laird
Bee Girl, Executive Director
American Beekeeping Federation, Kids and Bees Program Director
International Bee Research Association, Bee World Program US Ambassador 

"Beekeeping Education // Honey Bee Conservation" 

Kids 'n Bees: Kids and Bees and Disneyland

American Beekeeping Federation   By Sarah Red-Laird, Bee Girl   November 2014

Kids and Bees and Disneyland.  I don’t think there are many more words that are more fitting in a sentence together. The annual American Beekeeping Federation Kids and Bees event will be Friday, January 9th from 9am to noon, in the Mark Twain room at the Disneyland Resort.     

This no-charge event has been a tradition with the North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow for over 20 years, and is a “don’t miss” opportunity for school groups, home schooled kids, scouts, and clubs. Kids and their teachers or parents can expect a room full of hands-on activities under the themes of, “The Art of Beekeeping,”  “The Science of Beekeeping,” “The World of Beekeeping,” and “The Future of Bees: It’s up to You!” Favorites such as beeswax candle rolling, bee finger puppet making, and hive displays will be there. The highlights this year will be face painting, a photo booth with costumes, and an ultraviolet “Bee View” demonstration. Students will make their way through each station, engaging with beekeepers and Honey Queens from around the US, and activities that will harness their senses and imaginations.    


Sarah Red-Laird (Bee Girl) Poses Questions to Beekeepers

Yesterday (Nov. 19) at the California State Beekeepers Association conference, as part of our Next Generation Beekeepers Initiative, I facilitated a panel regarding bridging the gap between "commercial" and "backyard" beekeepers. Now, I'd like to open the floor to you for comment. 

This is a three part question. Answer just one part, two, or all three.

1) What are the differences between the two groups, as well as the similarities? 

2) What DO we do presently to help each other in a POSITIVE way? 

3) What CAN we do in the future to help each other in a POSITIVE way? I'd love to hear specific action items. 

Thank you SO much for participating!!

IBRA-International Bee Research Association

From BEE GIRL (Sarah Red-Laid): Lookie again!! Bee Girl is two for two this month! ABJ did a great job with their story on the work of my dear friends at International Bee Research Association - IBRA's BEEWORLD Project, and some of my goings on as well!

(Note: We are thrilled to announce that The Bee Girl will be speaking at the upcoming 2014 California State Beekeepers Convention, being held November 18-20th, at the Hyatt Regency, Valencia. For details, please see our LACBA Convention Website Page at: /2014-csba-convention-info/ or the CSBA Website at: It's going to be a great convention. Our theme this year is "Celebrating Beekeepers".)