My husband recently built our family several raised beds to grow vegetables. We were noticing some of the garden beds were being disturbed by our friendly neighborhood squirrels, so my husband threw up some netting over the beds. Unfortunately, we later noticed the tomatoes were growing flowers, but not fruit. We knew from a previous garden that no fruit meant pollinators were not getting to our plants. So, we threw the netting off, and a few days later saw tomatoes growing! Our experience reminded me of the importance of pollinators to the growth of a garden. I found some great books about bees at home and decided to grow my boys’ appreciation for the most effective pollinators: bees. A few good books and a fun hands-on activity made for a fun STEM activity for kindergarten.
During our weekly trip to the library, I searched for books to read to the boys about bees. I wanted books that were both educational, but also beautifully written and illustrated. Fortunately, I found four books that fit the bill!
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Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera
This beautifully illustrated book lets you join in the life journey of a honeybee. Starting from emerging from a cell in the nest, to all the different jobs she has before she is strong enough to fly. The story also leads you through the parts of the bee that develop as the bee grows, which all lead her to her different roles within the bee colony. Eventually the bee is strong enough to fly outside of the hive, and the story continues to show how the bee is specifically designed for pollinating and gathering nectar. Throughout the rest of the story, we learn how the bees communicate with one another, the lifespan of a bee, as well as how the young are fed. The story perfectly ends the way it began, with the birth of a new bee.
Ever wonder what would happen if all the bees disappeared? Before reading this book, I never realized how important bees were to our food supply. The book also introduced us to a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), where the worker bees in a colony inexplicably leave the hive. The book goes on to describe the effect of the disappearance to our fruit and vegetable supply, along with other effects to our ecosystem. The boys learned that while they may be afraid of bees, they are a crucial part to life.
“Flight of the Honey Bee” follows the adventures of a scout honey bee. The story begins with Scout’s first flight out of the hive. She flies away from the hive, finding a beautiful meadow. During her time away from the hive, she encounters predators, gathers nectar, and survives dangerous weather conditions. Scout eventually makes it back to the hive, where she rejoins her fellow bees and delivers the nectar. Each page of the book includes interesting facts about honey bees, which increase the learning while listening to the lovely story. On the last page of the book provides suggestions how we can support honey bees, and prevent their total extinction.
“The Bumblebee Queen” was my youngest son’s absolute favorite book. He asked me to read it every night before bed. The story follows the life cycle of a queen bumblebee and provides facts about bumblebees along the way as well. The queen bee starts in solitude, then lays her first batch of eggs. The book describes the process the queen goes through to lay her eggs and feed the larvae once they hatch, as well as how the larvae grow into bees. The story also describes the different roles bumblebees have through their life, as well as the life expectancy for a bee. We had to read past the queen bee’s death quickly, because it made my son sad every time. But the story ends on a positive note, which the emergence of the next generation of bumblebees.
Bee STEM Activity for Kindergarten
After reading all the books for several days, the boys wanted to invite more bees into our backyard. I really was not interested in having an entire beehive in our backyard. I did a little more research into different types of bees, and found out not all bees live in large bee hives. Infact, there were several types of solitary bees. I decided we could make a simple solitary bee home to invite a particular type of solitary bee into our yard called a Mason Bee. Making a Mason bee home seemed pretty simple, and I already had all the materials. After finishing our school work one day, we moved into Kindergarten STEM activity mode. Together, the boys and I made a simple solitary bee home to invite them into our yard.
- empty tin can
- 1 packet of plastic straws
- Elmers glue
- hot glue
- string for outdoors
- permanent marker
- thin sticks
Make a solitary bee home
Step 1: Remove all labeling from tin can.
Step 2: Fit as many straws into the tin can as possible, without squeezing any of the straws.
Step 3: Insert one straw into the tin can, and mark on the straw where the tin can ends.
Step 4: Cut the straw at the mark from step 3.
Step 5: Measure each straw against the cut straw and cut them to match.
Step 6: Pour a copious amount of glue into the bottom of the tin can, enough to cover the bottom completely.
Step 7: Insert all the straws back into the tin can, and leave vertical until the glue dries.
Step 8: Insert a few thin sticks in between some of the straws. Cut the sticks to be approximately the same length as the straws.
Step 9: Hot glue the sticks from step 8 into place.
Step 10: Measure and cut a 18″ piece of string. Fold the string in half and tie a knot to join the two ends together.
Step 11: Place the tin can in the middle of the string, and hot glue the string to 3/4 of the diameter of the can.
Step 12: Hang your bee home in a stable location and watch for a bee to make a home in it.
We all enjoyed learning about bees for a few days. We all have a newfound appreciation for these super-pollinators. Now when we see them, we no longer fear them, but appreciate their part in the world. We just give them their space to do their work.