What can kids learn from bees?
Sure, we love the birds. But, for now, let’s talk about bees for kids – or, more precisely, the beehives that many schools are now hosting to teach kids.
For one thing, schools are determined to bring the outdoors into education. Gardens are one popular way, but many schools are taking the next step—adding beehives (for honeybees) or bee houses (for solitary bees).
Why? Because, in the process of tending to hives and observing bee activity, kids learn about biology, agriculture, ecology, nutrition, and business. In short, bee houses and hives = science in a box.
Equally important, kids master important life lessons from observing the activities in a beehive. For example:
- Rely on information to conquer fear. Human beings needn’t be scared of unfamiliar creatures like bees. Instead, we can conquer fears by learning to watch, identify, and study how to behave appropriately around all the world’s “other” beings. For example, did you know that honeybees are not aggressive by nature, and will not sting unless protecting their hive from an intruder or unless they are unduly provoked? Well, now you know!
- Work cooperatively to get the job done. In the beehive, every bee has a vital job and every bee cooperates. Watching this process unfold gives us a role model for teamwork. Check out how a beekeeping experience in the U.K. that helped transform the behavior of unruly pupils. Headmaster Charlton Manor says about bees for kids, “”One of the big [challenges] for me is getting children to think of others, and to be aware of their responsibility to others. With some children, you can’t get them to understand that in relation to other children, but you can show them using bees, chickens or plants.”
- Stick to a smart work plan to get results. Bees work much harder than most of us can imagine. According to the National Honey Board, a bee may visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just one pound of honey. Thus, bees are associated with hard work and diligence. Actually, they never give up! And, yes, the persistence pays off.
- Earn while you learn. Selling honey is an enterprise that makes real money and teaches lifelong lessons in business management skills like marketing, pricing, packaging, distribution, and accounting. In the U.K example above, for instance, business advisors have helped the children open a shop selling honey in the school playground. The pupils weigh the honey and work out pricing, write ads for the shop, and design branding for the jars. Check out some more sweet facts on September’s National Honey Month.
- Learn how creatures on earth are interdependent. Actions in one apparently unrelated activity [applying lawn pesticides, for example], can affect whether certain fruits and vegetables end up at the grocery store and whether those foods are affordable. Learning about the effect of man’s activity on bees offers a case in point about environmental stewardship and connection with nature.
- Get up close and personal with science. Science lives and moves and changes – it even entertains! Hint: It’s good to get bees for kids. Beehives are tremendous fun to watch.
- Discover the gift of wonder all around you, everywhere. Bees help open our eyes and reveal new places to look for amazing realities.
Support The Honeybee Conservancy’s Sponsor-a-Hive program, which installs free bees and bee homes in school gardens and in community gardens. Learn the 5 Reasons to Sponsor-a-Hive.
High five, Hive!
Photo of children at hive courtesy of GameFarmHay.com