Monday, December 6, 2010

Nature Study - Bees and Honeycomb

Last week we checked out the Winnie the Pooh anthology from the library for the second time.   Like many generations of children, the boys are quite taken by Pooh.  As a result of our reading material, the dramatic play in the house has shifted to honey and bees, along with the usual doctor and chef play.  Last week my mother informed me that they had found a large wasp nest in one of their trees.   She was able to dismantle it and save it for investigation.  This led us into a a brief study of bees.

We began by reading several books on the topic.  

This was not our first discussion of bees.  Over the summer we had several stings, which prompted informal study.  We also observed bees at Hick's Orchard during our apple study this past fall in an observational hive.  Reading these books brought back prior background on the subject, and expanded our knowledge base quite a bit.  Here are five things we learned. 

Bees drink nectar from flowers to make honey for their young. 
There is only one queen in a hive. 
The other bees are the drones and workers. 
They build their hive out of wax from their bodies.  
The young are raised in cells that are hexagon shaped. 

After reading my mother arrived with the find from her property.  

We investigated the wasp nest and discussed the similarities and differences between the two insects.  On our science table we had a piece of comb from another nest that we explored.  We also used a flashlight to look inside the entrance.  The boys were able to observe the comb inside as well.  

If you look closely, the camera was able to capture the comb inside the nest.  

I took out our pattern blocks so that the boys could build their own comb on the table top.  We discussed how strong a shape the hexagon is to build with.  We settled into the kitchen to have some honey and bread with warm milk, before we ventured out into the cold for a quick field trip to Betterbee.  

Betterbee is an excellent source of beekeeping supplies for our area and the entire northeast.  If you are in need of supplies or have an interest in keeping bees, here is the link to their website   We traveled there to take a look at beekeeping tools, buy honeycomb, and to pick up some crafting supplies for making Christmas gifts.  

Inside we were able to check out the tools of the beekeeper, as well as get some honey sticks.  

The Handbook of Nature Study suggests looking at a honeycomb, so I was hoping they would have some for sale.  Unfortunately they didn't have any.  I am sure we will be able to find some for an investigation in the future.   Overall it was a quick little study of bees.  It is surprising how we ended up doing it in December!  I am sure we will expand our study this spring when we can investigate some hives with a beekeeper and finally get to the honeycomb.  


Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Thanks Amy for sharing your entry with the carnival.

See Jamie blog said...

Very interesting study (we studied bees earlier this year) but I have to admit the hornet and wasp nests kinda make me shudder.