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Coppingers talk bees with JCN first grade

The Oskaloosa Independent of Oskaloosa, Kansas

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Thirty-three first-grade students from Jefferson County North recently had a midday adventure with a visit to see the bees at Larry and Mary Cop-pinger's farm in rural Winchester.

The Coppingers are in their 20th year of having bees, which they use to market their own honey. What started with three hives bought at a garage sale has grown to where the couple now has 30 working hives.

The children and their teachers made the trek to the farm and sat on wooden planks supported by hay bales as Larry Coppinger talked about the world of the honeybee. Their importance in the pollination of fruits and vegetables was discussed, as were the different roles of the queen, the female worker bees and the male drone bees. The queen lays upwards of 1,500 eggs a day, with most of them being worker bees. Coppinger said out of 60,000 bees in a hive, 58,000 will likely be workers.

The kids got to look closely at the inner workings of both an empty and active hive. Coppinger showed them the frames with foundation that make up the interior part of the hive, and the students got to take a whiff of the pungent fume board used to drive the bees to the bottom of the hive so that the honey can be harvested. Coppinger showed them how the handheld smoker works to calm the bees down when he's working with them and two students got to don the garb of the beekeeper, much to the delight and envy of their classmates.

After that, the students broke into two groups as one made beeswax candles with Mary Coppinger and the other went with Larry to see the working hive before the groups switched places. After a little more bee-talk and a class picture, it was time to pack up and head home.

There was one unfortunate event as one child was stung by a bee that had gotten under his shirt, but by the time they loaded back onto the bus, he seemed to be back to his normal self. Coppinger said in years of student tours, they had only had one other student stung. He said he thought telling the reporter about that incident prior to the kids arriving jinxed him.

Original Publication Date: October 1, 2009



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