Bees Help Kids Care, Feel, Think and Grow
Animals were a huge part of my childhood, and when I think back on my experiences as a little tacker, all my favorites involve pets, insects, nature and the outdoors. For a kid, there is a special connection to animals that helps them learn, feel and think; from the act of looking after a pet, children develop respect for both animals and people, learning how to care for another being. Through this, a child builds a stronger sense of empathy as they respond to the needs of their pet; when they sense an animal is uncomfortable or in distress, children react, comforting them or finding a way to make them feel safe and secure. This empathy and care soon transforms into responsibility, as the child helps their parents or carers look after their pet. In turn, feeding, walking, supervising and cleaning up after a pet lets kids grow and evolve in ways that are unimaginable.
On the flip side, the animal provides the child with a huge amount of pleasure and consolation. Pets don’t judge, and children are known to chat away to animals as if they are their best friends. My own children seek the affection of their pets, communicating with them in their own private language of pats and games and noises. This increases a child’s self esteem, as they share their secrets with their animal companion. And as kids grow with animals, they also learn not to fear them! In turn, their lack of fear translates positively and more broadly in their lives. With these benefits in mind, a pet could be seen as a kind of spiritual companion that guides a child through their formative experiences.
Now, bees might not have the same qualities as the family dog or cat, but they can provide children with all of these attributes: respect, empathy, responsibility, self esteem and a letting go of fear. I frequently visit schools, especially primary schools, to teach kids about bees and the important role they play in the ecosystem. I take a live observation hive with me so they can see the bees in action, as well as different types of honey for them to taste, and beeswax and propolis to smell. It’s a full sensory experience, and the children take so much for getting to see what bees do and how cute they can be! Viewing the live hive also explains a lot about the circle of life to the class, as well as the importance of being gentle and appreciating nature. Be seeing how a hive works, and learning to look after bees, kids develop a deep appreciation for the planet and its beings.
Kids know how to care, feel and think in genuine and unique ways. When I visit kids from school and community groups, they are always able to understand the important role bees play in the world, and act on this knowledge in a way that is profound and surprising. My own children have shown me so much about love and compassion by watching them with animals, and they frequently gift me the most beautiful drawings of bees and other creatures! From their own experience with animals, my children have developed a special connection to their pets, and bees, and love to help out their dad make candles and tend hives. I have even found my daughter Summer saving a struggling bee from drowning in some water in the backyard! It is without doubt that animals help kids develop compassion and understand some of life’s deepest lessons.