Speaking About Bees
My stomach churned and rolled, I felt almost faint. My nervousness was nearly visible, thankfully I hadn’t started shaking yet. Anxiety overwhelmed me. Tears were threatening to burst forth. I was irritable, edgy and on the verge of cranky. My throat was dry, my thirst seemed unquenchable. I wanted the hour between two and three in the afternoon to be over with without me having to suffer through it. Jesse patiently endured all of this and tried his best to encourage me. Family tried to reassure me that I would do fine and that it wouldn’t be so bad once I got started. I insisted I’d be nervous and feeling awful the whole time. They wished me luck. Unwillingly, I got in the car for the short drive to Whitewater State Park. Jesse was sweet enough to accompany me and offer encouragement just by going with me. At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted him to listen but then I decided I wanted him to watch, to see me in that setting.
Back in May, I was asked by the naturalist at the park to do a presentation on bees. With encouragement from Mom and knowing what an honor it was to be invited, I reluctantly agreed. Hating public speaking, in fact being terrified of doing it, I pushed the matter aside for most of the summer. Before long though the middle of August was here and the time for my presentation rapidly drawing near. Filled with doubt, I tried to organize my thoughts, figure out what I would share with a room full of strangers. Bees, even just honeybees, are a very broad topic, filling up many books with information. Where to begin such an endeavor? Thankfully, I already knew the main point of my presentation would be about the importance of pollination. As the weeks gave way and I only had one left, I sought Mom’s help to organize my thoughts, come up with a plan. Having observed me my whole life, she was able to help. “Keep it brief and simple. You tend to be more interactive, making use of props. One on one works best for you. Keep your talk short. Elaborate through their questions.” So that is precisely how I decided to give my presentation.
I felt awkward as people began filing into the auditorium in the nature center at Whitewater State Park. My stomach was still churning. My throat was incredibly dry despite having lots to drink not long before. Jesse sat a few rows away from the front, perfectly calm, no doubt completely confident I would do fine in spite of my protests to the contrary. I waited silently for anyone else beside the handful of people that wonder in. I allowed a few minutes to tick past 2:00 pm. When I saw no one else was coming, I began.
Nervously, I introduced myself and my topic. To my surprise, my anxiety settled just a little as I took in the small group, noting happily that most of them were children. When it sank in that my audience was mainly children, I relaxed a bit more. The presentation became easier to deliver; it was almost like I was talking to my nieces and nephews, explaining the beautiful ways of nature to eager ears. Of course, there were a few things I didn’t explain exactly how I had wanted to, however I got all the high points down. It seemed my talk went by rather fast.
A little nervous once again, I asked if there were any questions. They were bursting with questions, wanting to know more detail about the life of honeybees and a little more about beekeeping. Even the children asked many questions. It became easy to explain the answers to each child, even if I didn’t know the correct answer or in complete detail, I was able to provide them with enough information to satisfy their questions. The questions of the children were very well thought out, showing their intelligence, interest and desire to learn. The adults, too, had many good questions. I was excited to hear their questions, it was a sign that they had been listening to my presentation and their interest was piqued. There was one girl in particular that kept asking questions.
With all their questions answered, we walked outside to the prairie garden not far from the entrance. The day was perfect for watching bees working over blossoms. Immediately, we saw many bumblebees buzzing around an allium, a plant resembling an onion. Yellow blossoms were filled with soldier beetles. Sweat bees hovered over the garden plants. With eagerness, the kids caught my attention, asking what each insect was that they saw. There were also many kinds of wasps partaking in the sweet nectar the prairie garden had to offer. The adults seemed just as excited about the bees buzzing throughout the garden as the children were. Some of them had a few more questions as we wondered about checking out the flowers. With excitement, we observed some honeybees gathering nectar and pollen. It appeared that the children were enjoying themselves and were intrigued by the busy insects. Joy filled me as I watched them walk through the garden, a hope that the next generation will love and enjoy nature, even the small things.
With no more questions from my fascinated group, I thanked them for their time and ended my program. Sweetly, they thanked me for sharing about the bees. After the group dispersed, Jesse gave me a hug and told me he thought I did well. It was great to hear. When we got home, his family asked about the presentation. They were proud of me, my heart swelled with these loving words of affirmation. With a few days distance, I think back on my presentation, the importance of giving it. I was allowed the special opportunity to share just a little bit about the awesome world of bees. To instill an interest for these necessary creatures, to plant seeds in young and eager minds. To share my love for bees and teach families what they can to do help the plight of bees, particularly the native species. Perhaps the seeds will germinate, grow, flourish and produce much fruit.