Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum

Where can you find 5,000 bees?

WINCHESTER — The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum will buzz with activity as guests swarm in this weekend to celebrate its 21st anniversary and a new exhibit.

The anniversary celebration is slated for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the museum at 19 W. Cork St. Tickets are $8 for non-members and free for members.


At the celebration, museum staff will unveil the new exhibit, Pollinator Plaza, which features approximately 5,000 bees in a glass-walled habitat. Guests will be able to view the bees as they climb around their honeycombs. A glass tube leads from the hive to outside of the building so the bees can search for food and bring it back. Pollinator Plaza is located on the second floor of the museum.

“As with all our exhibits, there is a hands-on interactive [component], and with [Pollinator Plaza] there are several,” said Ryan Hall, coordinator of marketing and membership at the museum.

On an interactive exhibit poster, children can move magnetic graphic pollen from the poster’s flowers to a drawing of a beehive to show how a bee would do the same. The exhibit will also feature four types of anatomically correct stuffed animal bees, including a worker bee, drone, queen bee and larvae.  

Children can also play with a set of bee puppets and crawl in and out of hexagon-shaped tubes that resemble a honeycomb. A set of dance steps placed on the floor in front of a mirror will let guests practice their “waggle dance.” This dance is the way bees communicate to let other bees know where to find food.

“It’s a fun, goofy way to act like a bee,” Hall said.

The tiny pollinators were provided by the Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah. Members of the club will perform regular maintenance of the hive to include collecting honey and making sure the bees are adapting well to their new home. The bees will be taken to an apiary off site to ensure none escape into the museum.

The local beekeepers club will also give occasional presentations at the museum while the exhibit is installed. Hall said they expect to have the bees for the next two years.

Pollinator Plaza is currently in stage one. The museum is raising funds — with a goal of $2,500 — to add more features to the exhibit. Adam Foizen, exhibit developer, said possible additions may include a microscope projected on a television to give guests a closer look at the hive, as well as a virtual reality program to simulate the life of a bee.

The museum has been working toward adding the bee exhibit for about a year.