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Kids Korps is all abuzz about making hives
By Michelle DeCrescenzo
UNION-TRIBUNE COMMUNITY NEWS WRITER

March 17, 2006

SOLANA BEACH, CALIFORNIA – With hammers and nails, local members of Kids Korps have learned to make beehives for a women's cooperative in Mexico.

About 30 students from Solana Beach elementary schools have taken part. They are among 97 local members of the community service club, and they have made the hives after school at Skyline Elementary. Kids Korps funded the effort.

The Mexican women's cooperative began beekeeping with the help of Los Ninos, a nonprofit organization that assists families along the U.S.-Mexican border. In 1999, Los Ninos donated two beehives and a protective suit, which is worn while collecting honey to avoid stings.

In 2003, David Clemmons of Los Ninos visited the women and learned of the need for more beehives. He came up with the idea of having Kids Korps members help make hives.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for the kids focusing on the education and team building,” Clemmons said.

The cooperative in Mexicali consists of eight women and their families. The project has grown to more than 100 hives. They produce more than 2,000 liters of honey a year, as well as beeswax candles and other products.

The Solana Beach students plan to go to Mexicali next month to see how the hives are being used. They will meet the women, practice speaking Spanish and sample the local food.

Beekeeping techniques will be part of the day's lesson. The practice is considered one of the oldest forms of food production, with rock paintings of it going back to about 13,000 B.C.

The hives that have been sent to Mexicali are made from wooden boxes that hold frames of plastic and wax paper. Bees build a honeycomb using the wax paper as a base.

Catherine Godone-Maresca, a team leader, will accompany the Kids Korps members on the trip. She is a member of College Korps and has been involved with the organization for a few years.

“I think that it's a good idea to do a volunteer project where you're helping people learn a livelihood rather than just give them charity,” Godone-Maresca said. “It's a very good cultural experience.”

The hives benefit the women more than charity, Clemmons said.

“It is actually giving the women a business,” she said. “They have to work that business in order to get something from it. That old adage, if you teach someone to fish, they'll be able to feed themselves for a lifetime. The beehives last from five to 10 years, depending on how well they take care of them. So by giving them a beehive, you're giving them a business that could last from five to 10 years.”

In addition to the beehive building events that Clemmons holds for young students, he has corporate executives make hives as team building activities.

He recently received a request from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry for beehives to replace those lost by beekeepers during hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

For more information on Kids Korps, call (858) 259-3602 or go to www.kidskorps.org.

For more information on Los Ninos, call (619) 426-9110 or go to www.losninosinternational.org.




Andy Schade, 6, built a frame for a beehive for a women's beehive cooperative in Mexicali. (Photo: Don Kohlbauer/Union-Tribune)