Hidden Talents at Village

A Q&A with Elizabeth B., Mom to Magical Pencil Rehane

Village parents have lots of talents—they’re on display every day on campus! But many in our midst also have hidden talents, ones that just don’t come up in casual conversation. We know somebody out there must be a magician, a ventriloquist, an award-winning chili chef, or maybe an opera singer?

Elizabeth B., mom to Magical Pencil Rehane, is sharing her hidden talent with the first grade and kindergarten classes. You see, Elizabeth is a volunteer beekeeper at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo.


How did you come to be a beekeeper at Happy Hollow?
Well, I really just help the zoo’s beekeeper, Steve Demkowski. I took his beekeeping class at the zoo and I’m one of a handful of folks that “graduated” who now help out.

What types of things do you typically do in your role as a beekeeper there?
I help out the students during the class and as a team we haul equipment (a lot of heavy lifting is involved), check the health of the hives, help diagnose hives that aren’t healthy, extract and bottle honey. You name it!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about bees since you started?
This was my third year working with bees and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of bee-keeping knowledge. It’s hard to choose a favorite thing but I think it’s amazing that flowers send out an electric charge when they are full of pollen or nectar, and sometimes only at certain times of day. Bees can sense this and that’s how they keep track of which flowers they can still collect from.

What’s your favorite thing about being a beekeeper?
Bees are so mysterious and smart, I just love learning about them. It’s also kind of cool to be a part of a tradition that goes back millennia!

Have you ever been stung while you were working with the bees?
Of course! It comes with the territory. It’s much more painful getting bit by a wasp.

Can people get honey from the Happy Hollow bees?
Absolutely! The Explore and More store at the zoo usually has it in stock. The honey extracted at the end of class each summer is specifically sold to benefit the rangers at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Happy Hollow has a close relationship with the rangers there who face death from poachers and militia daily.

Do you have your own hive(s) at home?
I have one hive at a friend’s house in the East San Jose foothills. Having my own hive has been extremely challenging, but a great learning experience.

What advice would you share with someone who is interested in becoming a beekeeper?
Bees live with the seasons, so if you want bees in the spring you have to start preparing in the winter. A great place to start is the Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild. The guild has monthly meetings, but in late winter/early spring they have free workshops on how to start (www.beeguild.org). The zoo has a class of course, that isn’t free but the fee goes to the Happy Hollow Foundation.



If you have an unusual talent that you’d like to share with the Village community, send us an email.


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