Thursday, December 16, 2010

Class Presentation... on Bees of course!

In October 2010, I took a day off to spend at a local public school. I was booked to talk to classes about honey bees and beekeeping.

Last year I attended for the day and I had six classes. This year, fourteen classes booked. Grin!

I took an empty hive and all my bee clothing: Veils, helmets and jacket. The children really love to put on the bee gear and those who didn't get picked will sometimes come back at recess to try it on then. So if you choose to do a presentation, take ALL your bee suits.

I also took a smoker and some sample honeycombs. I also took little containers with tiny wax flakes from wax glands and a container pollen.

As a caution, kids just can't seem to resist mishandling beeswax. They wreck it. They don't mean to, but they can't resist. Their little fingers just need to test its texture and so they squish it. I have successfully had wax go around in an open container. I specifically told them to look with their eyes only, but it works only if you stop presenting and watch them as it's passed from child to child.

I also handed around a paper wasps nest (empty of course) and they mashed it with their little fingers. Oh well. It won't be too hard to find another. Next time I'll be sure to put them in a clear plastic container.

I told them how honeycombs aren't too much different than soap bubbles and a test they can try at home to prove it. This one goes over well with adults too.

Due to school policy I was not permitted to let the kids taste raw unpasteurized honey. I had really hoped I could do a taste parade with them. That's where I have visitors try all the different flavours of honey. Many people are surprised at the differences. That's because most are only familiar with grocery store honey.

With adult groups it's great to explain how honey gets its distinct flavour from the flowers and that the supermarket honeys, although good, just don't compare because it's all the honeys blended together. That's a good plug to 'support your local beekeeper'.

Here's a slide show (honeybees.pps) which you may wish to use with your groups. You can view in Internet Explorer. It's on my web site: http://www.bee-magic.com/beekeepers.aspx. Feel free to download and use it for your presentations... and edit it to suit your style too if you want.

The slides work well for groups of adults and children. I don't stop always stop on every slide and I often just use it as a guide. Usually the presentation helps me to remember important facts I'd like to cover.

I just love telling kids about bees. We talk about bee poop, bee teeth and how nurse bees get to give Mom a bath with their tongue--they love that part. And the "eeews" are great when I tell them that nurse bees carry out the queen's poop (she doesn't leave the hive to defecate because she's too busy laying eggs). If you click these links you'll find they'll take you to my children's bee blog http://bee-magic.blogspot.com/.

Children really find the role change of child taking care of parent to be pretty funny. It's also a great opportunity to do a little correction--no thanks to Jerry Seinfield and his Bee Movie. He has male "pollen jocks" going out as field bees. Everyone is surprised to learn in the insect world it's the females that are the workers. The female teachers nod. They seemed to know that all along.

I like taking questions if time permits. We talk about stingers and the differences between omnivores like yellow jackets and honey bees. I'd just like to take away the term "stung by a bee"....
I was rewarded by one class with a song. I've posted the words below:

The Honey Bee Song

(Tune: Up on the Rooftop)

First, comes a honey bee and lays an egg,

Next, comes the larvae with many legs.

Oh, see the larvae build a cap,

A little pupa, a place for a nap.

Oh, Oh, Oh, Look and See (2 times)

Out of the pupa - See, See, See

Out comes a pretty honey bee!



I wish I could do this for a living. It's so much fun!

If you have a presentation to do and you have questions, let me know. You can email me from my web site or leave your comments below.

Soon I'll post some tips and tricks for doing presentations with children that should be helpful--my primary school teacher sister helped me with this one.

I'll also post bee questions that adults ask when doing presentations.
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