It seems like everyone is "buzzing" about bees lately - and rightfully so! Bee life is a lot of fun to learn about, especially for kids. If you're looking to introduce children to the world of bees, there's so much to learn and love about these little striped pollinators. Check out these five bee-inspired things you can do to celebrate with the littles in your life!
1. Plant a bee garden
Most children are naturally attracted to flowers and love picking and smelling them. Planting a bee-friendly wildflower garden with a child is an exceptional opportunity to teach your child about the environment while bringing unique beauty to your yard!
Here are five easy steps to get your bee garden blooming:
1. Pick a sunny spot in the garden or use a deck garden if space is an issue!
2. Select your favorite bee-friendly flowers. Some of our favorites include sunflowers, red clover, cosmos, marigolds, honeysuckle, sage, and wild lilac.
3. Purchase high-quality seeds. You can also buy plants from a local nursery, but starting from seeds allows children to see the full growth cycle.
4. Choose a container. You can plant seeds directly into the dirt, or if it's a bit cold out when you begin your planting, start your seeds indoors.
5. Plant, grow, and learn. When the seedlings are ready, transfer them to your garden and watch them bloom! Continue the conversation about the importance of bees and encourage your child to help you tend to the garden by watering, weeding, and checking for pollinating friends!
2. Read bee-themed bedtime stories
Reading to children is a great way to engage them on environmental issues and the importance of bees on our environment and ecosystem! Some of my favorite storybooks include:
- The Thing About Bees by Shabazz Larkin
Kids and bees can be rambunctious, but of course we need them both. Larkin’s playful father-son story gathers up the sweetness of life with unconditional love.
- The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive by Joanna Cole
This is a Magic School Bus original that is loaded with science-based, fantasy fun! Join Ms. Frizzle and her class as they turn to bees and discover what a beehive is like up close and personal.
- In The Trees, Honeybees by Lori Mortensen
A remarkable peek inside a wild honeybee colony safe and snug in a tree. It hums with life, thousands of workers bees, each doing their job. Combs filled with honey and pollen and there’s the queen laying eggs! It's all very organized inside a honeybee colony like a smoothly running town. You will never look at bees the same way again.
- Philippa and the Homeless Bumblebee by David Graves
One day a cheerful bumblebee has her life turned upside down when her meadow home is destroyed. Luckily a brave girl named Philippa comes to the rescue! Follow their exciting adventure together as they learn about the importance of understanding our ecosystem and environment's vulnerability.
- Bee & Me by Alison Jay
This is a story about a little girl who befriends a bee that takes her on an exciting journey of discovery, revealing an act that every child can take to restore beauty and balance to the world around us.
- The Life and Times of the Honeybee by Charles Micucci
You and your child can learn all about what life is like for a Queen, a worker bee, and a drone. This book also dives into the history of beekeeping, how honey bees produce honey, the lifecycle of a bee, and different types of flowers! This beautifully illustrated book is filled with gorgeous drawings, detailed text, and humorous yet scientific concepts.
3. Make honey play dough
Are you interested in doing an exciting sensory experience with your child? Make some honey playdough! This recipe from Teaching Mama smells good, is soft, and will keep the littles entertained for hours. There's no cooking involved, just a few common household ingredients to mix together. Try making some playdough beehives, bumblebees, or even roll a honey dipper along the dough to make some imprints.
4. Take a bee dance break
This activity will get you moving and shaking! This lesson teaches kiddos how bees communicate with one another through the "waggle dance" and the "round dance."
- Round Dance: When bee food is close to the hive (approximately less than 100 yards), a worker bee performs the Round Dance. They move around and round, first one way and then the other. Since the round dance doesn't show the food's exact location, fellow bees must fly out in a circular pattern near the hive until they find the flowers!
- Waggle Dance: If the flowers are more than 100 yards away from the hive, the returning worker bee performs the Waggle Dance! The dancing bee makes a figure-eight motion, waggling her body in the middle. If a bee waggles straight up, the other bees fly toward the sun to find the
flowers. If a bee waggles to the left, the other bees fly to the left of the sun, and if a bee waggles to the right, the other bees fly to the right of the sun. The distance between the food and the hive is communicated by the speed of the dance and the buzzing sounds made by the bee. The faster the dance, the closer the food!
Here are some fun dance activities you can do!
- The Waggle Dance Game (PBS Kids)
- The Way of the Waggle Dance (Ask a Biologist)
- Do the Waggle Dance (YouTube video - Jingaloo Music)
5. Create some BEE-utiful crafts
Crafting allows children to express their individuality and lets them create their own masterpieces. Here are some of my favorite bee crafts that can be done with things you most likely already have lying around the house!
- Bumblebee Hand Puppet (Bumblebee Conservation Trust)
- Busy Bee Headband (Simple at Heart)
- Tissue Paper Bees (I Heart Crafty Things)
- Bumblebee Pet Rocks (Crafts by Amanda)
Are you located in the Snoqualmie, WA area? Consider signing your nature-loving little one up for outdoor bee camp at Keepers Collective! These camps are an educational, hands-on experience for junior beekeepers ages 8 - 12. Topics include everything from who's who in a honeybee hive to the relationship between bees and food and ways to preserve PNW plants and bees!
2021 Spring and Summer Camp Schedule will be released in February 2021. Be sure to fill out our contact form, and we will notify you when registration is open!