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Weekend Pick: If you're not busy, bee exhibit opens Saturday

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Comprising the bulk of the colony, female bees work in a hive at the Yakima Valley Museum’s living honeybee exhibit on July 23.

I’m about to display a level of nerdiness I generally try to hide: I could watch bees all day.

Bees — those hive-building, crop-pollinating, honey-making wonders of the natural world — are just endlessly fascinating. They only have one queen per hive, and she’s biologically the same as that hive’s thousands of worker bees. The only difference is that she was chosen to be queen as a larva and then fed something called royal jelly, which is secreted from the heads of worker bees. All of the worker bees are female. The males, or drone bees, are only around to mate with the queen. And if they succeed in that mission, they die.

It’s a crazy set-up they’ve got going, those bees. Absolutely bonkers.

Anyway, starting Saturday you’ll be able to see them in action at the Yakima Valley Museum’s new standing exhibit, “Busy Bees of the Valley.” The exhibit, which is in line with Executive Director Peter Arnold’s vision of the museum as a home for dynamic, interactive learning, will feature a real working hive, which bees will be able to access via a clear plexiglass tube that connects to the outdoors.

You’ll be able to find me there, staring at bees, at various times throughout the next several years, museum admission charges notwithstanding. But, first you can get a good up-close look for free at the exhibit’s opening reception on Saturday.

The event will include a presentation by Central Washington Beekeepers Association representative Katie Buckley, a Washington State University entomologist. Her talk will be followed by a question-and-answer period and a chance for guests to enjoy a sweet treat made with honey.

If you go

What: Opening reception for “Busy Bees of the Valley”

When: 2-3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Yakima Valley Museum, 2105 Tieton Drive

Admission: Free reception

Information: www.yakimavalleymuseum.org, 509-248-0747

Reach Pat Muir at pmuir@yakimaherald.com.

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