Sisters Elise Edinger, 9 (left), and Diana Edinger, 12, along with their brother, Griffin Eulenberg, 11, assemble and paint Mason Bee houses at a workshop held at the Snohomish Library, taught by Lisa Webb of Machias. Several adults, including parent volunteers, also helped out.

Snohomish educational program is keeping kids busy as bees

SNOHOMISH — Nancy Shurvinton’s teenage daughter first spotted the sign from her bus on the way home from Snohomish High School.

The sign said people were needed to help fight the decline of the honey bee. That was in 2011.

Kristy Shurvinton is 19 now, and she and her parents are still into bees. After she saw the sign, they all got involved with Snohomish Youth Beekeeping Education, a nonprofit that grew out of 4-H.

“It’s 100 percent volunteer,” director Lisa Webb said. The mission is “to serve every interested child in lessons on pollinators, especially the honey bee.”

The free programs are aimed at ages 5 to 19. People with special needs also are encouraged to participate, including children and young adults, Webb said. Kids can be involved and see bees in action or they can learn about bees without getting hands-on, she said.

The kids host booths at festivals, parades and fairs. They share information about bees and beekeeping. There also is a monthly activity meeting that always includes arts and crafts, plus snacks. Hands-on events with actual bees will start again in April, as they are dormant in winter.

The children “teach the public about the plight of the honey bees,” Webb said. “They’re not only learning, they’re learning to speak to the public as well.”

Paul and Tiffany Kelly have three children in the program ages 9 through 12. They also have a hobby farm near Snohomish. Paul Kelly was trying to get the kids interested in farming. They said no to goats but yes to bees, he said. The family has hosted a few club events.

The club provides “crafts and community and social stuff,” he said. “I think they are fascinated by being able to be in a bee suit and around bees and not have them be able to hurt them.”

He recommends parents stop by and check it out.

“They do a lot of community service,” Tiffany Kelly said. “It’s a great way for kids to get out and help the community.”

The Shurvintons, who live in the Three Lakes area, started with bees as a family project and it’s stayed that way, Nancy Shurvinton said. Bees and the club helped get their daughter interested in science, and the honey is delicious, she said.

More volunteers are needed. Webb has a 1959 trailer that needs to be refurbished, rewired and painted for community events. She also is hoping to hear from artists who can make bee-themed designs. The club could use more donated bee suits in child sizes.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

For more information about the Snohomish Youth Beekeeping Education group, contact snohoybe@gmail.com or visit snohomishyouthbeekeeping.org.

The next meeting is 6 p.m. March 14 at the Snohomish Library and will involve arts and crafts. People are asked to RSVP at least a week in advance so there will be enough supplies.

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