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Why you should teach with bees!

Science

Bees are amazing animals.  As a teaching tool they open up a wide world of education topics to explore! I am going to share some reasons I think it is useful to teach with bees. This is not an exhaustive list but a place to start, use your imagination be creative and try something new!

Safety in taking risks/ Teambuilding

Bees are remarkable insects, however students experiences may only reflect their knowledge of painful stings.  I think the best way to handle this situation is have the students come up with safe ways to behave around bees and acknowledgement of different comfort levels. Remind students it understandable to fear something you don’t know much about but after the lesson hopefully they will feel more comfortable. The group of students can encourage each other to take risks and practice empathy.

Lesson idea: Comfort circle

Anatomy

Why study bee anatomy?

Bees have many unique adaptations that make them interesting to study.  Some are easy to understand adaptations of the worker bees like pollen baskets on their legs or furry bodies and some are hard to grasp like how bees are able to turn nectar into honey. And then there is the anatomy of the queen bee and drones to discuss. Because bees are so complexstudents can grapple with multiple concepts and begin to understand the system that is a honeybee and their colony. 

Lesson idea: Mind map of adaptations and uses for each type of bee

Life of a bee/ Teambuilding

The life of a honeybee is a complicated one (depending on what kind it is).  There are so many jobs to be done and so many bees to help! Every bee has a job that helps the community or colony of bees share success.

Communication through dance is such a large part of a honeybee’s life and is so different and interesting to watch.  This dance is shared to communicate where to find the best flowers to collect nectar and pollen. This can easily lead into a conversation about different ways humans communicate and the importance of communication for bees as well as humans and even more specifically within your group of students.

Once students explore the hierarchy of jobs for worker bees (which depend on the age of the worker bee), the queen bee, and drones they can find similarities and differences between their lives and perhaps further explore some adaptations of their anatomy!

Lesson idea: Team jobs, Bee waggle game

Bees are great resource to cover some pretty important topics but why should you care about bees anyways?! Sure they make honey that you can eat and they pollinate (mutualistic relationship) the flowers and food you enjoy like apples and blackberries. But they are also an indicator of the health of an ecosystem. You can ask students to explain their connection to honey bees.  Students can take their experience with bees to further explorations of other pollinators, agriculture systems, organic farming, where their own food comes from and see the large impact that the insect they were afraid of has in their life. 

Bees are amazing animals.  As a teaching tool they open up a wide world of education topics to explore! I am going to share some reasons I think it is useful to teach with bees. This is not an exhaustive list but a place to start, use your imagination be creative and try something new!

Safety in taking risks/ Teambuilding

Bees are remarkable insects, however students experiences may only reflect their knowledge of painful stings.  I think the best way to handle this situation is have the students come up with safe ways to behave around bees and acknowledgement of different comfort levels. Remind students it understandable to fear something you don’t know much about but after the lesson hopefully they will feel more comfortable. The group of students can encourage each other to take risks and practice empathy.

Lesson idea: Comfort circle

Anatomy

Why study bee anatomy?

Bees have many unique adaptations that make them interesting to study.  Some are easy to understand adaptations of the worker bees like pollen baskets on their legs or furry bodies and some are hard to grasp like how bees are able to turn nectar into honey. And then there is the anatomy of the queen bee and drones to discuss. Because bees are so complexstudents can grapple with multiple concepts and begin to understand the system that is a honeybee and their colony. 

Lesson idea: Mind map of adaptations and uses for each type of bee

Life of a bee/ Teambuilding

The life of a honeybee is a complicated one (depending on what kind it is).  There are so many jobs to be done and so many bees to help! Every bee has a job that helps the community or colony of bees share success.

Communication through dance is such a large part of a honeybee’s life and is so different and interesting to watch.  This dance is shared to communicate where to find the best flowers to collect nectar and pollen. This can easily lead into a conversation about different ways humans communicate and the importance of communication for bees as well as humans and even more specifically within your group of students.

Once students explore the hierarchy of jobs for worker bees (which depend on the age of the worker bee), the queen bee, and drones they can find similarities and differences between their lives and perhaps further explore some adaptations of their anatomy!

Lesson idea: Team jobs, Bee waggle game

Bees are great resource to cover some pretty important topics but why should you care about bees anyways?! Sure they make honey that you can eat and they pollinate (mutualistic relationship) the flowers and food you enjoy like apples and blackberries. But they are also an indicator of the health of an ecosystem. You can ask students to explain their connection to honey bees.  Students can take their experience with bees to further explorations of other pollinators, agriculture systems, organic farming, where their own food comes from and see the large impact that the insect they were afraid of has in their life. 

About the Author
Kyndra Eide
Author: Kyndra Eide