Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Ferriday resident Jennifer Stanford, left, secures a beekeeping suit on her daughter MacKenzie, 10, before the two tended to the beehives behind their home on Thursday evening.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Ferriday resident Jennifer Stanford, left, secures a beekeeping suit on her daughter MacKenzie, 10, before the two tended to the beehives behind their home on Thursday evening.

Buzzin’ around: Ferriday family sticks to beekeping hobby

Published 12:10am Tuesday, May 14, 2013

FERRIDAY When MacKenzie Stanford, 10, and her brother Lane, 13, go to school, they take their pens and pencils, books and notebooks.

And they never forget their beekeeping suits.

You can bet that their teacher knows what the two are getting into. She happens to be there mother.

When Ferriday resident Jennifer Stanford heard about a new group called the Miss-Lou Beekeepers Association just a few months ago, her interest, and that of her two home-schooled children, was more that piqued.

Lane actually received his first beebox and bees for Christmas three years ago, and he worked with his mother and sister to maintain them for the better part of a year. But the family’s attention turned to Jennifer’s ailing mother, and the bees were put on hold.

Upon her mother’s full recovery this winter, Jennifer thought that it was the perfect time to get Lane’s hobby buzzing again and raise bees as a family.

“I said ‘Okay, guys. We’re going to do this again,’” Jennifer said.

After maintaining two beehives for a period, the family now maintains 10 hives.

“We just decided that if we’re going to do this,” Jennifer said “We’re going to do it all the way.”

The bees play an important part in the home schooling of the children, with the family spending time amongst the buzzing swarms every day.

The family has been in attendance at every meeting of the Miss-Lou Beekeepers Association since its founding in February, and Jennifer actually serves as the group’s secretary and treasurer.

Association president Ken Ensminger said it has been great to have both young beekeepers join their mother at the meetings.

“This is the exciting part,” Ensminger said of getting youths involved in beekeeping. “That’s what we’re trying to do.

“We don’t have many young beekeepers right now.”

Lane said that helping to build and maintain the wooden hive boxes might be his favorite aspect of the work.

“Building is actually pretty fun for me,” he said. “I just like to tinker.”

Ten-year-old MacKenzie said she just enjoys spending time with the hive and watching how the different bees interact.

“My favorite part is being able to check on them and relate to them,” she said.

Jennifer said that the hands-on time with the bees hopefully would provide her children with another insight in to what hard work can provide.

“I’ve always tried to make sure that they are well-rounded,” she said. “And the beekeeping was just was more addition to them being well-rounded.”

Jennifer said the most important thing the bees have given her family is simply more time together.

“The home schooling with the bees has proven to be beneficial because we actually see how important it is to communicate and to keep all the aspects of family together,” Jennifer said. “And we see that in the bees. We all work together, and it’s for the better of the whole.

“It is so neat to see how everything flows together. And that’s how I want our family to be.”