Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale, Arizona has more than just butterflies. In fact, I like to call it Honeybee Wonderland because I get to take care of the two honeybee hives there and it’s super fun.
Last year I got to help the former entomologist, Dayna Cooper, do a trapout of the wall in the honeybee exhibit. From then on out I was able to help with re-queening their hives and helping out with some inspections. When Dayna left in November, I was asked if I would like to be responsible for both the observation hive in the conservatory and the hive in the outside honeybee exhibit. That was a no-brainer! Of course I would LOVE TO!
Not only do I get to take care of bees that will hopefully inspire future beekeepers, but I also get to interact with the public who visit Butterfly Wonderland and answer their questions about honeybees. The current entomologist, Derick Kellog specializes in termites and is absolutely fascinated by them. He assures me that it won’t take me long until I’m equally as enthusiastic about them once I learn more. Hmmm.. not sure about that, but maybe.
The Butterfly Wonderland Observation Hive
As beekeeper, having an observation hive like this one is so valuable because I can sit in the comfort of indoors and simply observe all the various behaviors of the bees and take notes or videos at leisure. If you are interested in having your own observation hive, check out this book, The Observation Hive Handbook. You’ll definitely need to learn to care for it properly once built, so I highly recommend it.
The observation hive is also an excellent tool for teaching about honeybees. I absolutely love showing people the queen and explain how she lays up to 1,800 eggs a day, right as she is actually doing it. Or describing the various jobs of the worker bees, and pointing the bees who are busy doing them. You don’t get any better honeybee education without being a beekeeper yourself. Yes, I love that Honeybee Wonderland (I mean Butterfly Wonderland) has this exhibit. The only thing I think I need to add to it is an exit sign on the wall where the tube allows bees to come and go from the hive to the outside world. Everyone seems to think the bees are self-contained and always wonder how they get food if they don’t go out. You’ll probably see that sign the next time you visit.
The Outside Hive
This cute little 8 frame hive is just outside the window next to the observation hive. I relocated the colony from a hive that was inside a dead cottonwood tree last fall. Once the bees were established I installed an Italian queen and I’m happy to say that the hive is thriving. The observation hive bees came from a valve box removal, and is also doing great. (I failed to mention that the observation hive is only 6 frames, 2 frames in three vertical sections.)
Keeping these hives docile is very important because of the numbers of people visiting Butterfly Wonderland. We will keep this hive at a manageable size by redistributing brood if necessary. I do hope to harvest some honey for the store though.
Fascinating Exhibits at Butterfly Wonderland
I have yet to talk about all the other fantastic exhibits at Butterfly Wonderland since I’m so focused on the bees, but there are some amazing things you’ll want to check out. Not only are there butterflies and bees, but there are also fish, reptiles, and spiders! But besides the bees, I think the most beautiful and awe-inspiring things are the chrysalises for the emerging butterflies. Some of these creations are quite ornate and look like jewelry with real gold designs. I didn’t believe that they were really that color. Just wow!!
The Butterfly Wonderland Store
Finally I can’t leave you without mentioning the amazing store at Butterfly Wonderland. If you know of anyone who loves bees, butterflies, or insects of any kind, you HAVE to go there and get their next gift. Seriously this place is stunningly decorated with the most beautiful products for both children and adults.
And last but not least, get your local honey here!
Be sure to visit me on the third Sunday of the month at the Honeybee Exhibit at Butterfly Wonderland.
To learn more, visit www.buterflywonderland.com