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A Bee Tea

A Honeybee Tea Party at Ernst Mayr Library celebrated creatures and collections.

Early drawings by Moses Harris

MCZ facadeOctober 15, 2013—The Ernst Mayr Library buzzed with activity during a Honeybee Tea Party, which captured the critter’s criticality through its capacious collections. 

Staff from libraries such as Widener, Lamont, Loeb Music Library and Houghton attended, sharing tea, cider, homemade cookies and fresh fruit—while chatting about the labyrinthine tunnels that connect the Harvard libraries, intriguing items in the collections and Massachusetts in the autumn.

"Ernst Mayr Library is such a pleasant place; they have tea and coffee available for their patrons on a regular basis, and they have so many nice little study nooks,” said Anna Esty, research librarian. “I appreciated the library staff's enthusiasm for the Honeybee Tea and enjoyed the informal opportunity to talk to other library staff who I otherwise might not see regularly."

Robert Young, special collections librarian, selected and displayed images—most from the 18th and 19th centuries—of honeybees, hives, honeycombs, colonies and beekeeping devices. “We find this is a great opportunity to show off what we have in our collections,” Young said.

The honeybee theme was inspired by a series of Harvard events on September 10, which included a screening of the film More Than Honey—followed by a discussion with Dr. Alex Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health, about current research on the link between colony collapse disorder and the use of agricultural pesticides.

The Library has themed exhibits with parties periodically. “For instance, we did Save the Frogs, in connection with National Save the Frogs Month, and Fishes, when the new Fishes exhibit opened at the Harvard Museum of Natural History,” said Dorothy Barr, public services librarian.

“It’s nice to have the opportunity to socialize outside our normal spaces,” observed Reed Lowrie, interim manager of reference services for Widener, Lamont, Cabot and Tozzer Libraries.

The tea and exhibition were co-sponsored by the Ernst Mayr, Widener and Lamont Libraries—and the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Harvard Undergraduate Beekeepers, the Harvard Farmers’ Market, the Food Literacy Project and the Cambridge Entomological Club. View the online guide to the program here.