Target Grade Level / Age Range:
2-3 days, 30-45 min. each day
Students will learn the life cycle of a honey bee and their importance to agriculture through pollination.
- The Beeman by Laurie Krebs and Valeria Cis
- The Lifecycle of a Honeybee by Bobbie Kalman – pages 10-21 photocopied
- Worksheet of bee anatomy
- Small pom poms (10 per student for half the class)
- Small basket (1 per student for half the class)
- Straws (1 per student for half the class)
- Clue notecards
Suggested Companion Resources (books, websites, etc.)
- Bee Ag Mag: http://www.agfoundation.org/recommended-pubs/bee-ag-mag
- Bee lesson on Scholastic.com: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/explore-world-honeybees
- Magic School Bus video inside a hive: https://youtu.be/Fo1y4rrcUog
- Pollination- Moving pollen from one plant to another plant to fertilize it
- Hive- home for bees
- Extractor- large bin that spins so honey can be collected as it splashes against the outside wall
- Honeycomb- cluster of wax cells built onto frames by bees to hold eggs, larvae, pupae, honey, or pollen
- Larvae- worm-like creature that hatches from egg
- Pupae- what larva changes into before it changes into a bee
- Colony- large group of honey bees
Interest Approach or Motivator:
Read The Beeman aloud to students. After reading, discuss:
- What do bees do?
- Why are they important?
- Are bees good insects or bad insects?
- What does a bee’s life look like?
Background – Agricultural Connections:
Bees are very important to agriculture. They are responsible for pollinating crops like cucumbers and kiwifruit. They also help soybeans – an Iowa crop – with pollination as well! In addition, bees produce honey. About 1/3 of the food we eat needs pollinators to grow. Bees are an important pollinator, along with butterflies, bats, and other insects and small birds.
There are three types of honeybees: workers, drones and queens. Worker bees are female and are the smallest bees. They build, clean and protect the hive, care for young bees, and groom the queen. Workers collect pollen and nectar. Drones are male honeybees, and they mate with the queen. There is one queen in each colony, and she is the largest bee. She lays all the eggs from which new honeybees will hatch.
The three types of honeybees all have different life spans. Workers live between 20 and 340 days, drones live between 20 and 90 days, and queens live up to five years!
The lifecycle of the honeybee starts when the egg is laid. Larva hatch from the eggs and begin their metamorphosis into pupae. The pupae develop into adults, which are mature honeybees.
- Split the class in half. One half will be bees and the other half will be flowers.
- Flowers will each hold a cup of water and a cup of tiny colored pom poms
- Bees will each have a small basket, a straw, and colored cup. They will fly to each flower and suck up nectar (water) and put it in their honey sac (colored cup). They also collect pollen (tiny pom poms) and put in their pollen basket (small basket). When the pollen basket is full they return to the hive (their seats).
- Have students discuss their observations. At the end of the activity, did they have pollen from many flowers?
- Break students up into pairs. Give each pair of students a Clue Notecard (attached). Ensure that the four Clue Notecards with the lifecycle stages have been distributed.
- Students must work together to find the stage of a honeybee’s life cycle their clue fits with.
- Four of the pairs of students will not have a clue, but rather a stage. Students must determine the correct stage and group together with the pair that has that stage’s card.
- After all students have found their correct life cycle stage and are in groups, the groups should sequence themselves so that the cycle is in order.
- Have students read their notecards aloud down the sequenced line.
- Have students return to their seats. Discuss:
- What are the four stages in the lifecycle of a honeybee? (egg, larva, pupa, adult)
- Which stage do you think is most important? Why?
- How is this lifecycle similar to that of humans? How is it different?
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents):
- Create a “life cycle book” where a variety of animals that are important to agriculture have their life cycles diagrammed out. Compare and contrast between animals.
Kelsey Faivre, IALF
National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes:
- T2.K-2.b: Identify animals involved in agricultural production and their uses (i.e., work, meat, dairy, eggs)
Iowa Core Standards:
- 2-LS2-2: Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants