December 2, 2023

From their barbed stingers to their intimidatingly loud buzz, bees might send some people running in the opposite direction at the sight of them.

Even Dana L. Church, a local researcher of animal cognition and author, had her reservations before working with bumble bees.

“One of my professors that I really liked said she was looking for a research assistant that summer, so I applied … then I realized I would be working with bumble bees, and I was terrified,” Church said while laughing.

Because she needed the job, Church decided to stick with it. That summer job quickly launched her into seven years of studying bees.

Dana L. Church, author of The Beekeepers. Photo Courtesy of Dana L. Church.

“The creepy crawlies and the bees … I was scared of them. So, I thought, oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into,” Church said. “I learned really quickly that bees are really fascinating.”

Church continued to study bumble bees and became so deeply passionate about the small insects that she decided to write a book about them.

The Beekeepers: How Humans Changed the World of Bumble Bees highlights the relationship between humans and bumble bees. It is suitable for all ages.

Bumblebees are an essential and important part of ecosystems, pollinating many important plant varieties across the world.

However, climate change, habitat loss, and pesticide usage are three major threats to bee populations.

Church said that while the book started as her wanting to share knowledge on how fascinating bees are, her goal ended up shifting by the end.

“When I started doing research and realizing that, wow, a lot of bee species are in big trouble, my goal shifted to … letting people know about the state of bees and that there’s things that we can do to help them,” said Church.

The ‘Amazing Pollinators’ exhibit is now open at the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum. Church is joining them for two separate events, in-person for a $15 fee on Saturday, Nov. 13 for children, and an all-ages virtual event on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

“It’s incredibly important [to raise awareness], as it is widely known bees are in danger and as the top-pollinators on the planet, we cannot live without them,” Catherine Mombourquette, the Market and Communication Coordinator for the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum said in an email.

Waterloo Region was declared a Bee Region in 2020, meaning that the city has committed to protecting and supporting bees and their habitats.

“A lot of these native bees are really suffering. I hope that we can start paying attention to those bees before it’s too late,” Church said.

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