Role of Teacher
Equipment: The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi / Different types of honey / Small tasting spoons (2-3 per student)
- Honeybees live in large groups called colonies. There are approximately 10,000 to 60,000 bees in each colony. Wild honey bees live in hollow tree trunks, caves, or holes in rocks.
- As a bee goes from one blossom to another, much of the pollen that clings to their bodies is transferred to the flowers, pollinating them and fertilizing them. Plants need to be pollinated in order to produce their fruits and seeds. Honeybees are the only insects that produce food for humans.
- Bees have a head, thorax (which has three parts – two legs in each part for a total of six legs) and an abdomen. The bee’s body is covered with hair. Honeybees are dark brown with dark yellow stripes. Bumblebees are black with wide yellow bands. Wasps, a type of bee, have thin yellow and black bands. Bees have two sets of wings.
- A bee has three single eyes on top of its head and two large helmet-like compound eyes. Bees see all colors humans do except red. Bees see ultraviolet light, which we cannot.
- Bees cannot hear; they have no ears. Bees sense vibrations and have antennae that are used for sensing fragrances.
- There are three different types of bees:
– Workers: These are small bees about ½” in length. They are female and live for six weeks. Their chores include making honey, cleaning hives, guarding and feeding the queen, feeding the drones, feeding the larva, building the wax combs, and visiting the flowers.
– Drones: One hundred drones live in each colony. They are male and live eight weeks. They are 5/8” in length and mate with the queen. They do not sting.
– Queens: They are the largest bees. They are about ¾” inch long. They are female and there is only one per colony. She lies up to 2,000 eggs per day. She mates with the drones, and she does not have black stripes. She can live up to four years.
- Using wax that bees have secreted from scale-like plates under their abdomen, combs are formed precisely shaped into six-sided tubes that are open on one end.
- Bees make honey by using their very long tongue so they can easily get nectar from small clover flowers as well as other types of flowers. The nectar is carried in a special part of the bee’s stomach. During the digestive process, enzymes are added, and the nectar becomes honey. The bee gathers water, bee glue (for the hives), nectar (for honey), and pollen.
- A bee visits 50 to 100 flowers a flight and each flight is about one hour. Each bee makes about 10 flights per day. After pollen has accumulated on the feathered hairs of the bee’s body, the bee brushes it off and molds it into tiny balls mixed with honey from its mouth. This is called BEEBREAD and it is the food for the young bees. To produce more than one pound of honey requires 25,000 trips between the hive and the flowers. A pound of honey contains the essence of about 2 million flowers.
- By the end of the fall, most bees will die except the queen bee, who will hibernate. The following spring her babies will be born, and the whole process will begin again. An average worker bee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. Depending on the types of flowers that the bees go to will determine the taste of the honey. The most popular is wildflower honey. This is made when the bees go to a variety of flowers within a field.
Topics / Goals / Learning Objectives
- To understand the role of pollinators in our ecosystem and how they help our plants grow.
- To understand how honeybees make honey.
Opening / Hook
Welcome! Today we are going to be learning about one of the most important creatures in Earth’s ecosystem. It has wings, is black and yellow, and makes honey. Can anyone think of what I’m referring to? (Allow time for brainstorming.) That’s right: honeybees!
Depending on the level of your students, share some or all of the background information on honeybees (above).
There are so many interesting facts about honeybees! But the most important thing to remember about bees is that we could not grow food without them. Does anyone know what pollination means? (Allow time for brainstorming.) Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male reproductive organ (anther) of a flower to the female reproductive organ (stigma). The goal of every living organism, including plants, is to create offspring for the next generation. One of the ways that plants can produce offspring is by making seeds. Without pollination, plants would not be able to create seeds, and we would not be able to grow more food from year to year. Bees play a major role in pollination and without them, growing fruits and vegetables would be very hard.
What do you think a world without fruits and vegetables would look like? How do you think humans would live? (Allow time for brainstorming.)
That’s right: humans would not be able to live long without honeybees because we need them to pollinate our flowers and fruits and vegetables. Without that pollination, we could not continue growing plants to eat.
Where do you think honeybees live? Do they live in the country, on farms, in the city? (Allow time for brainstorming.) That’s right: honeybees live everywhere! Everywhere there are plants they can pollinate, that is. Let’s learn more about these amazing creatures and how make honey in a book called The Honeybee Man. Let’s begin!
Procedures / Activities
- Welcome students and introduce the lesson with the Opening above.
- Have everyone sit in a circle so they can see the book as you read.
- When you are finished, ask if there are any questions and faciliatate a discussion about the book. What are the students’ reactions, thoughts, and impressions about the book? Did they learn anything new or did they already know some of the information in the book?
- After the discussion, take out the different types of honey and have the students create a line for each type of honey (i.e. If there are 3 types of honies, have them create 3 different lines). Once they have tried one honey, have them move to the next line, and so on, until they have tried all of the honies.
- Gather again in the circle and conclude the class by talking about the differences of the honies. Could they taste any difference? What makes the honies different? Which one is their favorite? Why?
Credit for Adaptation
A Bee’s Life, The New York Botanical Garden. www.nybg.org