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Learn about bees at the library

By Marissa Creamer
Rowan Public Library
Back in early February, on a rare mild day following a long cold spell, I sat on my porch to enjoy the fresh air and warm sun. I was surprised to see a lone honey bee gently buzzing in the viola blossoms, which had bloomed steadily through the cold and snow.
It was a welcome sign that spring would soon be here. Gardeners love to see bees and other pollinators because we know how essential they are to a good harvest.
To learn more about bees and the important role they have played not only in the garden, but in art, religion, literature and medicine, read ěHoney Bees: Letters from the Hive,î by Stephen Buchmann. This book discusses bee biology and behavior and examines our relationship with bees from prehistoric times to the present.
Humans have cultivated bees since ancient times. In lower Egypt, bees and honey were so important to the economy that the honey bee hieroglyph was chosen as the symbol for the entire region.
Early Egyptians also appreciated honeyís healing properties, and honey prescriptions appear on clay tablets and papyrus dating as far back as 1550 B.C. Beeswax was used in a number of ways, including mummification, shipbuilding and as a gel to slick down their elaborate wigs.
Buchmann also provides information about how bees produce honey and how we collect and use it today. He provides descriptions of many varieties, from the pale white clover honey to the more exotic and rare Tasmanian Leatherwood honey, as well as tips for using honey in cooking and a few simple recipes. More importantly, he explains the critical role that bees play in sustaining our food supply and in the ecosystem.
Unfortunately, honey bees in the U.S. are facing a mysterious malady ó it is estimated that nearly one third of all hives in the country have vanished. Researchers call the mass disappearance Colony Collapse Disorder, and are still trying to determine the cause.
You can learn more about CCD in ěThe Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe,î by Loree Griffin Burns. Filled with colorful photographs, this book chronicles the mystery of the vanishing honey bees from its first report in 2006, when a beekeeper in Florida inspected his hives and discovered that 20 million bees had simply disappeared.
For a more in-depth treatment of CCD, check out ěFruitless Fall: the Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis,î by Rowan Jacobsen. Focusing on the larger ecological implications of CCD, particularly regarding the food chain, Jacobson reminds us that ě80 percent of the food we put in our mouths relies on pollination somewhere down the line.î
Concerns about declining honey bee populations, along with a growing desire for homegrown and organic food has led to an increased interest in beekeeping as a hobby. If you would like to learn more about beekeeping, read ěStoreyís Guide to Keeping Honey Bees,î by Malcolm T. Stanford and Richard E. Bonney. This practical guide will help you get started in this rewarding endeavor.
You can find these and other books about bees and beekeeping at Rowan Public Library.
Computer classes: Classes are free. Sessions are approximately 90 minutes. Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dates and times at all locations are subject to change without notice.
Headquarters ó Tuesday, 2 p.m., Working with Windows; March 21, 7 p.m., Microsoft Excel 2003 Part 1; March 28, 7 p.m., Microsoft Excel 2003 Part 2.
South ó Monday, 7 p.m., Introduction to PowerPoint; March 31, 11 a.m., Introduction to Publisher.
East ó Registration required for East Branch only. Thursday, 1 p.m., Basic Access.
Childrenís Storytime: Now through April 29, weekly story time. For more information, call 704-216-8234.
Headquarters ó Toddler Time (18-35-month-olds), Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; Baby Time (6-23-month-olds), Wednesdays, 11 a.m. Preschool Time (3-5-year-olds), Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; Noodlehead (4-8 years), Thursdays, 4 p.m.
South ó Noodlehead, Mondays, 4 p.m.; Baby Time, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; Preschool Time, Tuesdays, 1:30 p.m.; Toddler Time, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.
East ó Preschool Time, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; Toddler Time, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.; Baby Time, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.
Book Bites Club: South only; March 29, 6:30 p.m., ěThe Forgotten Gardenî by Kate Morton. Book discussion groups for both adults and children will meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public; anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information please call 704-216-8229.
Book chats for children: South (only) ó Thursday, 4:15 p.m., ěStink & the Worldís Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers,î by Megan McDonald; grades three and four.
Children in grades 2-5 (different grade each month) are invited to participate in ěBook Chats,î a program at South Rowan Regional Library in China Grove. Registration is required and space is limited. Please call 704-216-7728 for more information.
American Girl Club: Headquarters, March 19, 11 a.m., a book discussion group about the life and times of the American Girls characters.
JRís Adventure Club: Headquarters, March 26, 11 a.m. The club will choose a project to build, and have books from the library and recommended websites that go along with the project. The club is open to all school age children. Light refreshments will be served. Call 704-216-8234 to learn more.
Teen program: Digital Illusions ó using Photoshop or Paint.net discover how to mix and mash images together.
East ó March 21, 5:30-7 p.m.
Headquarters óMarch 22, 5:30-7 p.m.
South ó March 29, 5:30-7 p.m.
Displays: Headquarters ó Red Cross; South ó bobbin lace by Pat Rigsby; East ó Ann Furr 4-H.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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