Bee keeping, bee-friendly gardening classes and more coming in April

PASO ROBLES — A series of events coming up next month at the Paso Robles Library will teach attendees everything they need to know about how to keep bees and how to keep a bee-friendly garden, along with a bee-themed film screening and book club discussion.

On Thursday, April 9, from 6-8 p.m., President of the Central Coast Beekeepers Alliance and local beekeeper Erin Holden will present information about hive design, equipment, and placement; the queen bee and her colony; obtaining bees, swarm management, harvesting honey, and care of the hive including pests and pest management. 

“We hear about honeybees in the news — how they are a crucial part of our agricultural systems and how their numbers are declining,” said Adult Services Librarian Karen Christiansen. “Hopefully this presentation will increase awareness of these issues and inspire others to embrace beekeeping.” 

In celebration of the Cuesta Book of the Year, join the Paso Robles City Library’s Book Group on Thursday, April 16, from 7 to 8 p.m. for a discussion of “The Honey Bus” by Meredith May. 

Meredith May recalls the first time a honeybee crawled on her arm. She was five years old, her parents had recently split, and suddenly she found herself in the care of her grandfather, an eccentric beekeeper who made honey in a rusty old military bus in the yard. That first close encounter was at once terrifying and exhilarating for May, and in that moment, she discovered that everything she needed to know about life and family was right before her eyes, in the secret world of bees. May turned to her grandfather and the art of beekeeping as an escape from her troubled reality. Her mother had receded into a volatile cycle of neurosis and despair and spent most days locked away in the bedroom. It was during this pivotal time in May’s childhood that she learned to take care of herself, forged an unbreakable bond with her grandfather and opened her eyes to the magic and wisdom of nature. 

The bees became a guiding force in May’s life, teaching her about family and community, loyalty and survival, and the unequivocal relationship between a mother and her child. Part memoir, part beekeeping odyssey, “The Honey Bus” is an unforgettable story about finding home in the most unusual of places and how a tiny, little-understood insect could save a life.

On Thursday, April 23, from 6-7 p.m., Master Gardeners Karen Russu, Gary Lawson, and Norm Smith will provide information on planting a garden that not only looks beautiful but attracts pollinators, which contribute to our local agricultural system. Topics covered will include what to plant, why to plant them, and how to care for them. Also featured will be a pollinator display showing how and why pollination is so important. 

As part of the library’s Cuesta Book of the Year Series, a film showing of the 2008 film based on the bestselling novel “The Secret Life of Bees,” by Sue Monk Kidd will take place Thursday, April 30, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Starring Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning, this film is set in South Carolina in 1964; it is the moving tale of Lily Owens, a 14-year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother. To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father, Lily flees with Rosaleen, her caregiver and only friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters, Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping, honey, and the Black Madonna. 

Following the show, there will be a discussion of the themes raised in the film. 

“This film showing is the perfect ending to our bee-themed month,” remarked Christiansen. “Both the Cuesta Book of the Year selection ‘The Honey Bus’ and this film based on ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ tell of lives redeemed through an interaction with the humble honeybee.” 

This film is rated PG-13; those aged 13 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Space is limited for these events. Family groups are welcome to attend. Registration is required for every participant. Visit prcity.com/246/Classes-Events to sign up.

The Paso Robles City Library is located at 1000 Spring Street and is open Monday–Friday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.to 5 p.m.. For more information on library programs and events, call 237-3870 or prcity.com/library.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles