Main Topic of Video: Bees play an important role in the environment.
- Have you ever seen a bee?
- How do bees move?
- What do you know about bees—their role in the environment, their social structure, beehives?
- Where does the bee go at the beginning of the video?
- What is the child’s reaction to the bee? Why?
- Should she be afraid of the bee?
- Why do we need bees?
- What is one new thing that you learned from the video?
- What more do you want to know about bees?
- Create a bee-positive comic or cartoon version of the video you just watched. Add a box at the end to include the bee’s return to its hive.
Answers to Discussion Questions
- Student answers will vary. Most students have seen a bee, though they might not have had a chance to look at it up close. There is a live cam of a beehive that students can watch for several minutes in order to see bees up close in the classroom. Here is a sample picture from the live cam:
National Geographic has a mesmerizing time-lapse video of honeybee development.
- National Geographic has a short video that describes the meaning behind honeybee movement. In order to signal the location of a food source, the bee behaves in the following manner (from the video transcript):
“First, she moves at an angle. The angle indicates the direction of the flowers in relation to the sun.
The hive’s honeycombs are built vertically, so straight up means toward the sun.
Down means away from the sun, and so on.
Second, distance. She waggles her abdomen rapidly. The more she waggles, the further the distance.
Third, flower type. The pollen she collected provides a scent cue for the others to smell for.”
- An information sheet about bee diet can be found here. Among the facts that might be most interesting to children:
- Bees live in colonies, with one queen, hundreds of male drones, and thousands of female worker bees.
- Beehives are made up of hexagonal cells where bees store food, and incubate larvae.
“Worker bees gather both pollen and nectar from flowers to feed to the larvae and other members of the colony. Nectar is the sweet fluid produced by flowers to attract bees and other insects, birds, and mammals. Worker bees drink the nectar and store it in a pouch-like structure called the crop. They fly back to the hive and regurgitate the nectar to other “house bees.” The house bees mix the nectar with enzymes and deposit it into a cell where it remains exposed to air for a time to allow some of the water to evaporate. The bees help the process along by fanning the open cells with their wings. The cell containing the resulting honey is later capped with beeswax and kept for future use.”
“Honey bees rely on their sense of vision to locate flowers. Bees see colors in the spectrum ranging from ultraviolet to orange, but do not see red (Red flowers are visited by birds such as hummingbirds.). The flower advertises itself to the bees with colorful petals, many of which have shiny patches of ultraviolet that humans can’t see except with special equipment. These ultraviolet patches are called bee guides or nectar guides. Like airport runway lights, these ultraviolet regions guide the bees to the nectar.”
- The bee goes to eat the nectar from a flower.
- The child is scared of the bee because she fears it might sting her.
- No, bees will not bother you if you leave them alone.
- Bees provide many valuable services. They help plants reproduce, pollinate flowers to create fruits and vegetables, and they produce honey.
- Answers will vary depending on experience. Students might learn that bees are not trying to sting people, or that bees are necessary for plants and vegetables to grow.
- Answers will vary.
- Answers will vary. Students might show the bees bringing pollen back to the beehive.
ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
- Younger students might enjoy coloring a bee while learning its most basic anatomy. The image below is designated for reuse and can be scaled up and photocopied for classroom use.
- The beehive is made of hexagonal cells, which makes for an easy integration into the study of shapes (elementary school) and geometry (high school). MIT has published a lesson plan titled “Why Beehive Honeycombs Have a Hexagonal Shape” for use in a geometry classroom.
- The College of Agriculture and Life Science at the University of Arizona has published a unit of lesson plans around the study of the bee (intended for elementary school children). The topics include: the honey bee body, the honey bee’s home, what bees eat, honey bee communication, songs and stories about bees, bee and wasp identification, honey bee duties, and Africanized honey bees. Each topic includes background information, student handouts, and lesson plans.
- The National Science Teachers Association has created an insect curriculum, which includes a unit on bees.
- Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a recent phenomenon that threatens bee colonies, and therefore food production. National Geographic has a featured article on the quest to build super bees that are resistant to colony collapse disorder. This article includes multimedia, maps, and a photo gallery.
On the causes of CCD (from the article):
“Most have concluded it is not a single problem, as first thought, but a lethal amalgamation of pests, pathogens, habitat loss, and toxic chemicals; varroa mites are a critical component.”
- Bees are not the only insects that are beneficial for human society. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to farming that often incorporates insects into agricultural practice. Have students read about this approach and summarize how insects are used.
The UC IPM webpage has useful information about IPM.
- Have students research one of the following insects and create a poster that explains how the insect can be useful for agricultural practices: Ladybug, Dragonfly, Lacewing, Praying Mantis, Minute Pirate bug, Earwig, Big-eyed bug, Assassin bug, Damsel bug, Mealybug Destroyer, Ladybird, Soldier beetle, Hoverfly, Tachinid fly, Ichneumon wasp, Trichogramma wasp
ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES
- The San Jose Mercury Mews published an interesting article titled: San Jose: The beehives of Happy Hollow Park and Zoo help save mountain gorillas in the Congo about raising funds by selling honey to assist park rangers in the Congo.
- Knit a beehive tea cozy: a free pattern is here.
Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Lee Pruett.