Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Learning about honey bees

When we returned after the summer holidays the sunflowers at kindergarten were in full bloom in the garden. We noticed that the bees and bumblebees were very busy collecting pollen and this has provided much interest and excitement with the children using books to research all about bees. 

Many of the children helped plant sunflowers all around the kindergarten and this has provided some amazing learning.


Acacia investigates the pollen with a magnifying glass.

Liam gets up close and comments " That is really cool pollen."

Unai comments" It's a big ginormous sunflower up close."

Caoimhe and Ciara study the detail of the sunflower. " It's got tiny flowers inside too." comments Ciara.

Today Danny brought a slide with a queen bee and a lot of worker bees for the children to look at. We learnt that bees are very important for the production of food, as bees fly from flower to flower, sipping on nectar and collecting pollen and in the process fertilize the plant. Bees have a special tongue that sucks up the nectar and a crop in their throat for storing it until they get back to their hive, where it is turned into honey to use as food. We have learnt that bees make static electricity on their flight to the flower and this is how the pollen sticks to their busy body. They then take the pollen back to the hive where it gets made into honey. To identify the queen bee, Danny puts a white dot on her. The queen is usually brown with a long and graceful body and the largest bee in the colony. All bees in the colony work together for the good of the hive, each has a job to do. We learnt that only the queen lays eggs in the hexagon cells, the larvae then hatch from the egg and the other worker bees’ feed them honey and then close up the hexagon cell. The larvae then change into a bee and then the bee emerges from the cell. Most larvae grow into worker bees. Worker bees collect the pollen and make honey to feed the larvae. We have learnt that only one queen lives in a hive and has two primary purposes, which are to produce chemical scents that help keep the unity of the colony and to lay lots of eggs. She is in fact an egg-laying machine, capable of producing more than 1,500 eggs a day at 30-second intervals. That many eggs are more than her body weight!  Danny also showed us the bee suit he wears to protect himself from being stung when he is collecting the honey or working at the hive. He showed us the smoker he uses when working on the hive to keep the bees calm. Honeybees rely heavily on pheromones to communicate throughout the hive. When bees think they are under attack, they release an alarm pheromone to alert the other bees, which agitates the entire hive. Smoke masks these pheromones and confuses the bees, allowing the beekeeper to work in the hive and keep the bees calm. We also got to see a hive up close, without any bees in it. The children continue to enjoy watching bees working around the sunflowers. What amazing insects they are.

Cole and Harry spend time investigating books about bees.
Penny learns all about the 'scout' bee, who looks for  pollen and nectar.
Noah and Ayva learn that bees are attracted to certain flowers.

                                Danny brought an empty bee hive to show the children. What amazing learning that went on.

Becky got dressed up in Danny's bee suit to show the children what Danny wears when he is collecting the honey from the hive or working with the bees.

The children are able to see real live bees at work in the glass slide. The queen had a white dot on her and was larger than the other bees,

When the bees get hungry over winter Danny feeds them some sweet liquid.

We were able to have a little taste, yum!

Special thanks to Danny for taking the time to bring his bees for the children to see and for sharing his wonderful knowledge. The learning was incredible.


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