WHAT'S A BEE?
students drawings and/or pictures of bees. Ask students to discuss
their prior experiences with bees. Ask them to describe how they
tell the difference between a bee, a wasp and a hornet. Ask students
the following questions and list their answers on the chalkboard:
Has anyone been stung? What happened? How did you feel? How do you
avoid being stung? Reinforce with students that yes, bees can harm
us if they sting or frighten us when they swarm. Ask students to
brainstorm answers to the question: How can bees help us? List these
answers on the chalkboard and refer to them as the unit progresses.
BUSY AS A BEE
A light-hearted, yet very informative, way to begin studying bees
is to read Joanna Cole's "The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive"
to the students. Use the information presented in the book to develop
areas of investigation for groups of students to focus on as they
view the video (honeybee habitat, body parts, life cycle, relationship
to humans, etc.). Use these general topics to organize a class discussion
or as research areas for later in the unit.
THE BEE IN MUSIC, ART AND POETRY
Without telling students the title of the recording, play "Flight
of the Bumblebee" by Rimsky-Korsakov. Ask students to try to
guess the subject of this musical composition, and to list three
to five musical techniques that they heard the composer use to "describe"
the music's subject.
Then replay the recording, and ask the students to use visual art
techniques (color, line, texture, shading, etc.) to illustrate the
positive and negative thoughts and feelings they have about bees.
Compare these and discuss the varieties of emotional response students
can have to a topic.
Thirdly, replay the recording and ask students to compose a poem
or haiku (five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the
second line and five syllables in the third line) about bees as
they listen to the music. If desired, post the students' poetry
with their drawings and display them in the classroom during the
Ask students to make a brochure promoting and explaining a bee pollination
service. Use the journalist's 5 W's and 1 H technique (What, Where,
Who, Why, When and How?) and develop visuals and other creative
graphics to make your brochure stand out and attract business!
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
Ask students to write and perform a play to demonstrate the many
jobs of a worker bee's six-week life. Include the following:
Day 1: egg -- brood cell
Day 3: larva
Day 9: pupa
Day 21: worker bee: first job (5 days); house-bee: second job (7
days); nurse bee: third job (4 days); builder bee: fourth job (5
days); guard bee: fifth job (3 weeks); forager or field bee: sixth
job, if hive gets too crowded, scout bee, swarming, or clustering
Be sure to dramatize how the bees eat, collect pollen and perform
their other roles in as exciting a way as possible!
IN POLLINATION CASE STUDY
Many scientists are concerned that urbanization, insecticides, single
crop farming practices, forest clearing, road building and other
human activities have seriously affected the number of invertebrate
pollinators in North America. Ask students to research this topic.
Discuss what, if any, action should be taken to deal with this issue
and write a letter outlining their ideas. Send these letters to
newspapers and government officials for action.
AFRICANIZED HONEYBEE CASE STUDY
What would the diary of a bee be like? Visit http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/insects/ahb/inf25.html
and read the "diary" of an Africanized honeybee as it
explains its daily life, how it came to the Western Hemisphere and
what people should know about the benefits and dangers it has brought
to its new ecosystem. Ask students to discuss and evaluate the effectiveness
of the four suggestions (July 8 diary excerpt) that the writer makes
about dealing with the Africanized honeybee: quarantines, mandatory
requeening of hives, more training for beekeepers and public education
about hazards. Is enough being done to deal with this new species?
VIDEO OVERVIEW AND SUGGESTIONS
As you view the video "Beekeepers" with your students,
use the timecodes and video transcript as needed to stop and start
the tape, discuss the information and visuals, and guide your students
as they explore this topic. Ask them to write down any terms that
are unfamiliar to them and use the glossary after the program to
define the terms.
"I don't think anybody anymore really believes that
they could make a living on honey only in Oregon ... My business
is primarily supplying bees as pollination service."
He moves the bees at night when they naturally stay inside
"These nights get pretty long." It's the part of
the job he worries about most.
"One of the worst things that happens to us is we get
stuck. And you're out by yourself in the mud and muck and
you got bees buzzing around and who wants to come and help
you? It's probably the middle of the night."
Since this drive isn't far, he does manage a few hours sleep
and still makes it to the orchard before dawn. The farmer
called just the day before to say his pear blossoms need bees.
Jim Donnely's there to help distribute the hives. "When
I start up there I know how you do it. About every eight rows
... All right, if you just kind of tell me which row you want
me to go in on."
They need to work quickly. All the hives must be in place
before it warms up and the bees start flying. Bees reorient
easily to the new hive site.
"We can pick them up and move them outside of the flight
radius, which is about, say, a mile, and when they come out
the next day in that new location, then they're forced to
reorient to that new location and very quickly they'll identify
that as their home spot."
But why pay to have bees moved here when wild pollinators
would do the job free? Well, first, there aren't enough wild
bees to cover these huge orchards.
"Another reason is they're using more and more chemicals
which have had a tendency to kill off wild pollinators."
But the primary advantage is that by putting in plenty of
hives, the bees visit all the blossoms in just a few days,
rather than weeks. "That means that all that fruit will
be harvested at about the same time rather than having to
go in and pick five or six times."
Any insect that visits flowers can pollinate, but honeybees
are the best. "Whenever a bee leaves the hive and goes
out to collect nectar or pollen, it will stay on the same
variety of plant on that whole flight. So it doesn't go from
a dandelion to a cherry to an apple to a pear."
These are really no different from wild bees. They aren't
domesticated. But George does manipulate the colony to make
it more efficient. To find out how, we went along as he checked
on the health of some hives.
"Now what does the smoke do for you?" "Okay,
it calms the bees down a little bit." Inside the hive,
it looks like mass confusion, bees moving in what seems to
be haphazard motion. "It's always amazing to me that
out of all that apparently random action, there is ... an
overall structure which is very intricate and precise."
Bees of different ages perform specific jobs, all revolving
around one thing, raising more bees. "There's the queen,
right there." The first thing he checks is that the queen
is healthy and laying lots of eggs. If not, he'll replace
her with another, bred to have desirable traits like gentleness
and high productivity. "She doesn't feed herself. She
doesn't clean herself. All she does is lay eggs. She's the
matriarch. But in another way she's being controlled by her
daughters who regulate the amount of feed that she gets and
where she goes. She's not in control at all. She is actually
being controlled by the will of the hive."
Only about two percent of the bees are males. These drones
have no stinger and do no work. Their only function is to
mate with a queen. All the rest are infertile females. These
worker bees do everything for the hive.
When the new bees first chew out of their protective covering,
they don't fly. "Here's one right here, a couple of them."
These young stay inside doing housework and tending the queen
and new brood. They're generally quite docile. "Won't
sting. You can touch them, you can herd them around. "
"The flying bees are the oldest ones in the hive and
they also not only collect the nectar and pollen, but they
also do guard duty. So they're the ones that are most likely
to sting you." The flying bees bring back nectar in their
bellies and pollen on their hind legs. Enzymes turn the nectar
to honey, which they store in the comb.
"This is some old honey that's capped over already and
here's the new honey that they're collecting, kind of glistening."
The pollen supplies protein. Adult bees need almost none
so they only seek out pollen when there are young to feed.
"This colony is actually needing a little bit of room.
The queen would have trouble finding a place to lay. So I'm
gonna actually take a little bit out of this hive and give
it some empty combs so that she has some room to move."
He moves the extra bees to a new hive that also has lots of
room to grow. Plenty of eggs means young to feed and, therefore,
active bees. "We're giving them not just bees that are
just buzzing around, but we're giving them bees that need
pollen and will go out and look for it and do the pollinating
job in the orchard."
To make sure the bees can get through a spell of bad weather,
he fills a reservoir with fructose. "Fifty-percent losses
every winter is not acceptable to me. I can't accept that,
whereas that's not uncommon in nature is for half the bees
to die every winter. If it rains for four or five days, a
hive in this condition, with as much brood as they have, could
easily starve to death. We've made sure it has enough feed
... that the queen's in good condition ... you know this hive
is in good condition to go into an orchard and do a good job
of pollinating. So I can close it up and move on to the next
And George has a lot of next ones to maintain. About two
thousand hives -- that's more than a hundred million bees.
"I don't have names for all of them."
And yes, he does sometimes get stung. Enough times that
he no longer reacts to the venom. He does have some advice
to avoid getting stung.
First, try to stay calm.
"The first reaction most people have when a bee comes
around is to go like this ... and that's probably the very
worst thing." Wearing light-colored clothing seems to
"White, smooth cotton is really the best, and the darker
and fuzzier it is, the more it seems to attract aggressive
behavior." And no one but a trained professional should
ever disturb a colony. Bees are defensive. They sting when
threatened. "Most people get stung when they bother a
bee. But if you're working in your garden away from a hive
and there are bees in your flowers and stuff like that, there's
really not much danger."