A Bee's Life
In this lesson, the students learn the three types of honey bees in a hive and the responsibilities of each by playing the part of the bee. They also learn the life cycle of a bee and how they contribute to both plants and humans
In this lesson students will be able to:
Identify the queen, worker and drone bees from a diagram and the jobs they do
Understand the difference between nectar and pollen and how bees make honey and beeswax
Have the fun of acting like a bee
Diagram of the three types of bees
List of worker bee jobs
Materials to build a honeycomb
Manilla folders cut vertically into three pieces
Small balls or plastic eggs to represent the eggs
Pebbles in cups to represent pollen
Yarn, flagging tape or other "fluid" material to represent honey
Hexagonal paper cut outs to act as cap for each cell
Lots of paper clips to clip cells together
Honey sticks or other honey sample
To prep for cell wall construction:
Cut off the tab and indent of the file folders so they are straight across
Cut each file folder vertically in three even parts. These three pieces will form the six sides of each cell.
Open each piece. About 1/2" from each end make a cut halfway from the top of one end and halfway through the bottom of the other end so they can be assembled without glue or scissors
Assemble 7 cells prior to class and paper clip them together to start the honeycomb before the class begins
Fill large colored plastic cups (representing flowers) and fill them 1/3 full of small pebbles (pollen) and place them around the room or garden space
Make hexagonal paper cut outs for each cell by cutting off the corners of a 8 1/2 x 11 " paper leaving six sides
Allow enough room in the class or garden to accommodate the honeycomb. Each cell will be about one foot across. (A class of 15 will require about 6' x 6' plus room to move around the comb)
In the opening circle:
Introduce the lesson "A Bee's Life"
Show the students the diagram of the three types of bees. Ask them what they are and why they are different. Identify each of the bees on the diagram and briefly discuss the responsibilities of each. Queen: lays eggs, worker bee: female bees who do all the work in the hive, drone: male bees responsible for mating with the queen (couch potato when it comes to work in the hive!)
Show them the chart of the "Worker Bee Jobs" and explain how workers do different jobs according to their age. Define any new or unfamiliar terms
Tell the students that today they will be performing all the tasks of the worker bees in order to understand them all. (The teacher will be the Queen and the drones will be discussed but not acted out)
Building the honey comb:
Hand out 3 pieces of cut file folders to each student
Show them how to slide the side the pieces together matching the slits on top and bottom until a hexagon is formed
Have paper clips available so they can each clip their hexagon to the growing honeycomb by clipping it to the surrounding cells
Talk about how bees love to be clean and neat and have them clean out any debris from the cells to get ready to receive the eggs
Have the Queen bee (teacher) lay an egg in each cell and explain that when the eggs hatch, the larva will be very hungry. The worker bees forage for pollen and nectar from flowers to feed the larva.
Explain the difference between pollen and nectar. Show where the pollen is found either on a diagram or real flower and explain how the bee collects the pollen and carries it from flower to flower, pollinating the flowers so they can make seeds.
Send the students around the garden (or classroom) to collect "pollen" from the plastic cup 'flowers" to put in each cell
Because the nectar is a liquid when it is collected from the flower, talk about the nectar pouch and how the bee turns nectar into honey with enzymes on its tongue. Pass out yarn or flagging tape and have the students add it to the cells.
Explain that the sugar in the nectar can also be turned into the wax that is used to make the honeycomb and cap for the cells. Pass out the hexagonal cut outs and have the students cap the cells.
Explain to the students that the larvae will stay in the cells and eat for about 8 days. Then it will make a cocoon and go through the process of metamorphosis and turn into a baby bee. The worker bee will then chew a hole in the cap and let the new generation of bees out.
Extra honey added to some cells will create drones and a special substance called royal jelly will be added to those cells that will create the next queen.The new queen and the old queen will fight to see who will lay eggs for the following season. The defeated queen will fly away to make a new nest bringing some of the worker bees with her in a swarm
Also discuss how the worker bees clean the hive and guard it from predators