With beautiful photographs and clever dialogue from “Barbee the Bee,” the 32-page book takes readers on a journey to Baden with Sister Lyn Szymkiewicz, a certified beekeeper. The book is sprinkled with interesting facts about bees, how they adapt through the seasons, and how Sister Lyn cares for them.
The project was made possible through an organization called Grow a Generation, which was begun by Dr. Ellen Cavanaugh. Sister Lyn served as a Resource Mentor, and students from the Baden Academy Charter School (BACS) worked as Research Fellows in the school’s Media Lab. The school, which is located on the Motherhouse grounds, has easy access to Sister Lyn’s bee-keeping and honey-harvesting operations.
The idea for the book was conceived by Alysa Armstrong, then a fifth-grader at BACS. She says she is on a personal mission to save the honey bees and hopes someday to become a beekeeper.
“Alysa had the thought of creating a book about a beekeeper who would teach children that bees are helpful to the environment and don’t want to hurt people,” Sister Lyn says.
During the 2015-16 school year, Alysa teamed up with Damon Snyder, a fifth-grade, who was the photo editor for the book. Both children are parented by Jill Snyder, who works in the Housekeeping Department at the Motherhouse. Damon, who combined his love for photography and nature in the project, enjoys gardening, composting, repurposing and recycling. The book was completed this past May by BACS students and Research Fellows Kennedi Emery and Maya Abt.
The book, which is dedicated to the Sisters of St. Joseph, also highlights their commitment to caring for all creation by conserving resources and living in sustainable ways. All proceeds from the sale of “Barbee the Bee Visits Sr. Lyn’s Beehives” will benefit ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Sister Lyn first worked with a BACS Research Fellow, Erin Cheek, a few years ago. Erin created a pollinator garden in the Elizabeth’s Community Garden on the grounds. She grew plants that served as food for the pollinators, raised milkweed as one of them, and raised and released a monarch butterfly.
“This collaborative venture of Motherhouse staff working with Baden academy students and staff is in line with the sustainability goals of our Sisters,” Sister Lyn says.
“We always seek to create intergenerational connections with groups working on or with our Sisters or through programming so that we might broaden and strengthen our relationships and our community.”
The book can be purchased online.
Honey and other apiary products produced by Sister Lyn’s Earth Tones ministry can also be purchased online or in our Motherhouse gift shop.