On our first week back after the Easter Holidays we have been focussing on learning about environmental issues. During our literacy, we read up about the lifecycle of bees and how important they are because they polinate flowers and help plants make fruit and vegetables. We learnt all about what the queen bee spends most of her time doing (laying eggs) and is in charge of the hive. We learnt that worker bees have many important jobs around the hive. The worker bees are also all female and they keep the hive cool by flapping their wings, they build the hive and keep it clean, protect the hive and collect pollen and nectar from flowers. We also learnt that drones have only one job – that is to mate with the queen, that bees make honey to provide food for the winter and that royal jelly is a food that is only fed to the queen and the larvae. In the summer, a queen can lay up to 2500 eggs a day and a bee flies at approximately 15kmph. Bees flap their wings about 200 times every second and a bee will only sting if it feels that it is in extreme danger. A worker bee lives for about a month and they do special dances to tell other workers where to find pollen. Around the world bees are becoming an endangered species and if there are no bees, we will have no food. We found out lots of interesting facts and we also learnt that bees are very clever and that scientists have trained them how to kick a bee sized ball into a net. Apparently they are visual learners and if they see another bee doing this then they will do it too (who knew!). Prior to our visit to see ‘real’ bees (thank you Hannah and Simon, we designed our own bee-friendly garden following some comprehension work on what made a bee-friendly garden. We did a short science experiment showing the important role bees have in polinating flowers. Each child was given a bee wrist band and a ‘flower’ – this was a paper bag with some powdery crisps inside – pupils ate the crisps to demonstrate that they were taking the nectar from the flower and then moved on to another paper bag (whereby they showed how the pollen was moved from flower to flower). After lunch we went to Hannah and Simon’s to learn about and see their bees and the honey production. We were even kitted out with special ‘bee’ hats and we got to see how beekeepers use smoke to calm the bees before removed the honeycomb frames. Simon also showed us the bottom of the hive where the queen bee lived and all the worker bees lived in a separate area. We also got to touch and smell the block of beeswax and discussed how beeswax was used in the past and even today in different products. Simon also told us that up to 60,000 could live in one of the hives at one time – if all the hives were full that would equate to around 400,000 bees. We had a very informative and interesting afternoon and we look forward to our next visit where we will be observing the extraction of the honey from the hives. In the meantime, Simon very kindly gave us a jar of Raasay honey (wild flower) which we will be having on our toast at snack time. What a fantastic opportunity to learn first hand about the importance of bees in our environment – thank you Simon and Hannah.
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