Howdy Intrepid Stock Show Bee Booth Wranglers!
Thank you so much from all the bees in Colorado and the Boulder County Beekeepers Association for your participation in our most far reaching public outreach event! The BCBA has been providing this booth as a public service since 1977, but we couldn’t do it without everyone’s help!
We are part of CSU’s Ag Adventure. We don’t have a state sponsored beekeeping program, so BCBA has partnered with CSU to provide an educational booth. There can be no commercial or political advertising of any kind. It’s a rule. No selling your honey or putting out your business flyers, please. Likewise, no campaigning or petitions for non-bee issues.
The booth consists of two tables, a backdrop with beautiful, informative bee posters, two glass display cases, examples of beeswax and pollen, a sweet tabletop mini hive (no bees), lots of informational handouts, beekeeping tools and suit, and, the main attraction, an observation hive with live bees.
You can go to Signup Genius to see whether anyone else is signed up with you. Please be on time and plan to stay for your whole shift. The person before you is tired and ready for a break. The exhibit can’t really be locked and secured against crowds when not staffed.
Tickets will be held at will call under A-C in the front of bee poop colored Expo/Education building on Humbolt. Tell them you’re with the BEEKEEPERS booth and give your name. Those folks may be dazed and confused, so a gentle prod that there's a big manila envelope with our tickets, might help. We have enough tickets for the two volunteers each shift. You can buy additional tickets for family members and see the schedule on the NWSS website http://www.nationalwestern.com/. The tickets are for general admission to the grounds, so everything but the special shows and rodeos. (We wanted to have a pricey ticket rodeo event where we could dress up in our spangly sequined bee suits and climb up on ladders to catch swarms of equally spangly bees, maybe another time.) Feel free to visit other parts of the NWSS outside of your time slot. There’s a lot to see from draft mules to stock dog trials to unbelievably goofy-looking poultry!
National Western Stock Show
Hall of Education/Expo
4655 Humboldt St.
Denver, CO 80216
The Hall of Education is a 30’s style yellow brick building with outlines of domestic animals on the outside on the north side of I-70. Here’s a map:
Parking isn't easy or straightforward. It's a constant construction zone that gets worse every year. I-70 is being brought down to ground level. NWSS lots are free, but it’s first come first served along with the general public. Look for NWSS signs. Leave plenty of time to find a spot and get to the booth. 40 min is reasonable There’s a shuttle that runs every 10 min from most parking lots. Don't count on street parking. The vouchers ($6) are for the Vendor Lot B on weekends when other lots may be full. you can park in the will call/press Lot K, run in to pick up your voucher and ticket, run back out and repark in Lot B. It’s a 15-20 min walk from there. Yes, it's actually easier to park elsewhere. There are private businesses offering parking spots, but your voucher isn’t good with them. On weekends you can bus/train to or park at Coors Field, 27th and Blake, and take a shuttle that runs every 10 min.
You can also try taking public transit, but basically you can’t get there from here during the week, not easily. Here’s RTD’s Trip Planner https://www.rtd-denver.com/app/plan
Once you're there, pick up your ticket, go up the stairs, up more stairs to the third floor. There's also an elevator. CSU is right at the top and the Ag Adventure is to the left. We're between the weavers and the potato bags, across from the egg barn and pigs.
Bring something to drink! You’ll be doing plenty of talking and it’s surprising how thirsty that makes you. You might want to bring a snack too. Getting food/drink at the NWSS may be a 30 minute endeavor and you shouldn’t leave the booth for that long if you're alone. And this isn’t exactly the place to find vegan, gluten-free, fair trade fare, unless you count deep fried Twinkies as vegan.
If you have a cell phone, keep it with you, but please turn off the sound. Don't count on WiFi.
Set up and close down
- 10-1 shift: Uncover the beehive, restock the handouts, put out the display materials. This is the school group shift Tues-Fri and church/civic groups on weekends. Watch for wandering little hands around the bees.
- 1-4 shift: Weekdays are fairly slow, but weekends will be busy, especially MLK weekend.
- 4-7 shift: This is the time that families come through. It may be slow during special events. At the end of this shift, please put the spacer blocks on top of the hive to hold the cloth off the air vents and cover the hive with the cloth.
Is the biggest draw of the Ag Adventure! It does contain live bees with a marked queen. The whole thing is very stressful for them, being yanked out of their hive in January, cooped up for 5-7 days, at room temperature, unable to go on cleansing flights, lots of vibrations. We do this because of tremendous educational value they provide, but it’s our job to keep the stress level down as much as possible. Try to reduce pounding, tapping, spinning. There will be 2-3 hive shifts this year. We're using the Ulster (shoeshine box) nuc set in a lazy Susan type base. Mostly they’re held closed with screws or draw hasps, which will be taped/wired to make them less accessible, though not foolproof. The sides are clear acrylic, not glass. It’s more durable, but also flexible, so pressing on it may open some small escape routes. There will be a roll of tape if this gets to be a problem. The queen is confined to the top frame by an excluder. If she moves to the back side, you can turn the hive so the public can see her. We’ve tried to foolproof everything, but Murphy’s Law and bees . . .
If you must leave the booth unattended, or if the next shift hasn’t arrived, and after the last shift of the day, please put the spacer blocks on top to hold the cloth off the air vents and cover the hive with the cloth.
Mostly end up on the floor or in the trash, so don’t just routinely hand them out to everyone. If someone asks, however, distribute freely, and they can be a great way to summarize your answers to questions. It’s why they’re there. Bee clubs have been invited to bring their cards, so you can try to match people with something in their geographic area if they’re interested. Likewise, some of the Why Join a Bee Club flyers will have local stickers on the back. Feel free to promote your local bee club. For questions that are in-depth, out of your league or rude/hostile, refer them to the BCBA or CSBA websites.
We've been asked specifically not to hand out stickers because they end up on everything and the janitorial staff has objected.
For non-urgent issues and feedback, jot them down on the logbook/clipboard.
For urgent issues (with the bees for example)
Kristina Williams 720-278-6872 (mobile/text). I'm in Longmont
Phil Bradbury 303-564-1270 (mobile text) in Erie
Fred Powell 720-530-8828 (mobile text) in Highlands Ranch
Frequently asked questions
Where’s the queen?
She’s in there (hopefully). She’ll be marked with green (2019) or red (2018) paint, according to the when she was born. The difference between her and the workers is early nutrition. She gets more and better food when she’s a larva (baby). Rather than just pointing to her, try for a little more engagement. Can you find her? Refer to the posters for visuals. What’s she doing?
How many bees are in there?
- About 3,000 workers who are all female but don’t lay eggs. In a regular hive 10,000 to 60,000. There are usually some taking out the trash, or trying to.
- One queen, also a female, who lays all the eggs. She’s not like a human queen. She’s important, but replaceable and she doesn’t get to boss anyone around.
- Drones, maybe one or two, the males, with big eyes and a chunky body. There are lots more in the summer when their job is to mate with a new queen from another hive (not their sisters).
Ideally, no. They want to stay with the rest of their family in the hive. If some do get out they would fly toward the light way up there.
What are those ones doing? (pointing to the dead bees in the bottom)
They’re dead. Some are dying from old age and some are dying because it’s stressful for any animal to be here, including bees. This is an agriculture education exhibit. Animals live and animals die. We try to let them live well and not die needlessly.
What’s happening to all the bees?
- 1. Diseases and parasites like varroa mites. There’s a small bottle with some varroa in it.
- 2. Pesticides. Insecticides and fungicides (not Roundup, not GMO’s), neonicotinoids because they’re used so much, are highly toxic, are water soluble and are used for seed coatings and the dust gets everywhere. (Last year the sugar beet booth has some bright pink coated seeds, 'though not neonics they say). Many other insecticides kill bees too. Bees are insects! Even organic insecticides kill bees too!
- 3. Poor nutrition. Bees need lots of different kinds of flowers like we need different kinds of food. Our wild spaces are disappearing fast, going into corn, concrete and green lawns.
I want to save/help the bees!
- 1. Reduce or eliminate pesticide use - you, your neighbors, your town, farms that grow your food.
- 2. Plant safe forage (flowers) adapted to our area - native plants especially, not treated with pesticides.
- 3. Support local beekeepers, buy local honey made by Colorado bees.
I want to keep bees!
Keeping bees does not “Save the Bees.”
Responsibility and commitment of time, learning and $.
Check out the CSBA website (it’s on most of the flyers).
Take a class
Join a local bee club.
You can’t learn on Facebook or by watching YouTube.
Why Join a Bee Club flyer. The local clubs may have their stickers on the backs, so try to match these up with the visitor. Otherwise, refer them to the CSBA website or give them a business card from a local club.
Subscribe to a bee magazine like American Bee Journal or Bee Culture.
Consider helping native bees too.
I tried keeping bees, but they all died/left/I don’t know what happened.
Be sympathetic, but stern. Beekeeping is not easy. It takes specialized knowledge. Not everyplace is suited for bees. Try to steer them toward joining a bee club or taking a class.
Have you ever been stung?
Well, just be honest here. Beekeepers get stung all the time and live to tell about it. So do little kids. Not a big deal.
I’m SO allergic to bees!
Technically, we all are. Swelling, itching, redness are all part of a local allergic reaction. An anaphylactic response, where the whole body reacts, is life threatening, but not very common. Most anaphylactic reactions are to yellow jackets, not bees. However, we’re not doctors and should be careful about giving medical advice.
Where’s the bathroom?
Continue through the Ag Adventure, past the King Soopers Petting Zoo, before the Western Art Gallery.