BeeWise is “Buzzing” Right Along

jane craytonWhat happens when you mix citizen science, youth STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education, beekeeping, the Maker movement, and throw in a little Internet of Things just for fun?

You get BeeWise, one of eXtension’s 2017 innovation projects.

Since the project announcement, the BeeWise Apiary at the Pueblo Zoo was dedicated by Pueblo County Commissioners and dignitaries. This was done during an Earth Day event that also featured a native bee exhibit by Colorado State Beekeepers Association, a native bee habitat building activity and pollinator plant talk by Pueblo Master Gardeners. It also included a beekeeping equipment demo by Pueblo County Beekeepers Association. A short presentation about the BeeWise project and the successful funding of BeeWise through several distinguished grants were delivered to the engaged audience.

BeeWise also participated in pollinator events in June during Colorado Pollinator Month, hosting a booth at a local farmers’ market where a top-bar honey bee exhibit was on display with honey bee and native bee specimens. A pheromone game using essential oils was played with children to demonstrate how honey bees communicate using pheromones.

Beewise logoThe prototyping has been partially completed for a smart hive kit, using a Raspberry Pi and sensors donated from Spark Fun (more on that in future posts). Summer camps (also in a future post) have started and we have identified a candidate for a paid Maker/Beekeeper position. The project has even gotten its own logo (see image, right).

A hiring panel made up of CSU-Extension office staff, 4-H leaders, an AmeriCorps Service Member, and the Makerspace Librarian at the local library, held interviews for the Maker/Beekeeper position. We identified a person to fill the position who will assist with the final build of the kits and lessons for using the smart hive, maintaining the BeeWise Apiary, and outreach to local youth through school enrichment and summer camps, demonstrating the kit and teaching pollination programs.

Partnerships and collaboration have really driven the success of this program. You might say, it has become a “hive” of activity that brings together many not only many different innovative ideas but many different people.

For more information about BeeWise, contact Jane Crayton at craytonj@pueblocounty.us

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