September celebrates National Honey Month, marking the conclusion of honey collection for beekeepers and honey producers. There are many reasons to celebrate National Honey Month, but the primary reason is to take a moment to appreciate the natural sweetener produced only through the efforts of an entire hive of honeybees. Treat your group to a Sweet September with the activity ideas below, and explore the many sweet benefits of honey.
HONEY TASTING – Kick off the month with a honey-tasting activity. Purchase individually wrapped honey straws or honey sticks, typically found in a specialty grocery store. Distribute to participants and invite them to taste the sweet flavor. Ask them to describe the flavor and recall how they used honey in the past. Save unopened honey straws and serve with a cup of tea during other activities throughout the month. (Note: provide an alternative for those on special diets.)
HONEY BISCUITS – Depending on what cooking groups look like in your facility, either guide participants in a baking class or do a baking demonstration and make these delectable honey biscuits. Start by creaming together one cup of softened butter with one cup of sugar. Then, mix in two tablespoons of honey, one egg yolk, and two cups of self-rising flour. Continue mixing until a dough forms. Scoop a generous tablespoon and shape into a small ball with your hands. Place balls about two inches apart on a prepared cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. Continue to roll dough balls until all the dough is used. Before placing in the oven, use a fork to slightly press the balls down, flattening them in a criss-cross pattern. Bake at 350 degrees, for 8-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool before serving.
FALL GARDENING WITH NATIVE PLANTS – Help foster the honeybee population by adding native flowers or plants to your facility’s garden this fall season. Gather participants and research plants native to your area. Invite a naturalist to discuss native plants via videoconferencing. Then, purchase plants and invite participants to assist. Even if members watch, they can participate by suggesting the best location to plant each flower, or help water afterwards.
CREATE A BEE HOTEL – Create a bee hotel with your group that can be placed outdoors next spring. Head over to 2pawsdesigns for a great tutorial. You can use any plastic bottle and any brand of paper bags. This is a great activity to do one-on-one with members: it promotes dexterity and it can be completed over the course of the month.
YARN-WRAPPED BEES – Trace an outline of a bee, about six inches long, on yellow card stock paper, and then cut out. Then, punch a hole near the back end and tie one end of a two-foot length black yarn through the hole. Give bees to participants and invite them to wrap the yarn around the bee, however they prefer. This is a great calming activity for members with dementia. The repetitive motion helps them to focus while overcoming agitating behaviors. As participants wrap their bees, reminisce with them about using honey in the kitchen, fall activities, or what they used to do outside as a child.
START A BUSY BEES CLUB – Start a “Busy Bees” club this month and invite members to help with various tasks that need to be completed around your facility. Suggestions include washing BINGO chips, decluttering activity closets, reorganizing libraries, sorting through donations, organizing and sorting craft supplies, or assisting with activity set-up. Follow your facility’s social distancing guidelines.
MEDICINAL USES FOR HONEY – Honey has been used throughout the world for its medicinal purposes. Reminisce and discuss with members ways they recall their parents or grandparents using honey to heal ailments. For example, honey is able to coat and soothe a sore throat and can help with insomnia. Ask participants to share their experiences using honey for medicinal use. Was it helpful? Research other non-traditional ways honey is used in medicine by doing a quick internet search.
HONEYMOON REMINISCENCE – Use this month’s theme to reminisce with your group about their honeymoon memories. Ask where and when they went on their honeymoon and why they chose that location. What was good about it and what didn’t go as planned? Did they ever go back to that location a second time? What do they think about the current trend for newly-expectant couples to take a “baby-moon” prior to the birth of their first child? Serve tea – sweet and unsweetened.
LESSONS FROM A HIVE – Invite a beekeeper or honey producer to share a virtual presentation about beekeeping. If possible, ask them to take your group on a virtual tour of their beehives and where they produce their honey. If you are able to find a local beekeeper, consider purchasing a few bottles of their honey prior to their presentation so participants can taste a sample. If you’re unable to find a local beekeeper, find an informational video online or check out one from your library.
SENSORY HONEY SLIME – Mix a batch of this gold glitter honey bee slime and engage participants in a sensational experience. Follow the directions provided here. Make a double or triple batch so you can divide into individual containers to avoid cross-contamination between participants. Let participants explore through their sense of touch and smell. Reminisce about honey, bees, summer and fall. Use as a one-on-one activity.
MUSICAL BEES – Dig out any yellow plastic Easter eggs and turn them into bees. Use a black Sharpie marker to draw the stripes of a bee around the egg, and draw two eyes. During your next music group, get out your parachute and instruct participants to take a hold of the handle. Space participants appropriately, being mindful of social distancing guidelines. Play the classical piece “Flight of the Bumblebee” and then encourage members to lift the parachute up and down to the beat of the music. As the music picks up speed, instruct members to shake the parachute fast, creating small waves. Toss the plastic egg bees onto the parachute and challenge participants to keep the bees in the parachute “hive.”
PAINT WITH HONEY DIPPERS – Invite members to create an abstract masterpiece using honey dippers instead of a paintbrush. You’ll need small canvases (purchased at a local craft store), honey dippers, acrylic paint, paper plates, cups for water, and paper towel. Give each participant a blank canvas and honey dipper. Ask them individually to select three to five complimentary colors and squirt a small amount of paint on a paper plate for each participant. Then, instruct them to dip their honey dipper into the paint and smear lines across their canvas however they choose. They can use the honey dipper end as a stamp, roll it, or gently flick paint onto the canvas with it. Let the canvases dry and display in a common area.
HONEY PHRASES – Challenge members to list as many phrases, song lyrics, or titles that include the word “honey.” Can your group come up with at least 25? Write them on a white board as members call out their responses. Pause as needed to discuss the origins of the phrase, what the movie or book was about, or to sing the song. Here are a few phrases to get you started: “Oh sugar, ah honey honey, you are my candy girl…,” honey-do list, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” the land of milk and honey.
SWEET SEPTEMBER TRIVIA
- What is the only insect that produces food that humans can eat? Bees
- Approximately how many flowers does a bee need to tap to make one pound of honey: 500,000, one million, two million? Two million
- It was once common for newly-weds to drink mead (or honey wine) for the first month of their marriage to ensure the birth of children. What do we call a newlyweds’ trip together? Honeymoon
- Which U.S. state is nicknamed the beehive state? Utah
- How much honey does an average worker bee make in her lifetime: 1/12 tsp, 1/2 tsp, or 1 tsp? 1/12 tsp
- Bees make honey from what? Nectar
- How many pounds of nectar is needed to produce one pound of honey: 5, 10, or 15? 10 pounds
- How do worker bees communicate the location of good flowers with other bees when they return to the hive? They dance
- What is the term for a collection of household tasks that a wife might ask her husband to complete? A honey-do list
- What famous children’s character is prone to getting his head stuck in a jar of honey? Winnie the Pooh
SWEET SEPTEMBER THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“Life is the flower for which love is the honey.” ~ Victor Hugo
“Sweet September” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2020 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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