Recently our children have had a real fascination with bees. This seemed to come about last term when some of our children shared their excitement when they received honey through their sibling’s school bee hives.
This lead to some wonderful discussions about bees and honey, many of our children were real experts with wonderful existing knowledge about bees and more importantly honey. What a lovely opportunity for our children to discuss and share their own ideas and thoughts about bees. It was during these discussions that a couple of children decided that they wanted to draw while explaining their thoughts. The purpose of drawing helped our children think with a scientific lens about what knowledge they had. While drawing they were asking each other, what a bee looks like or does a bee have wings or legs, how many?
Desired goals of science in the early childhood curriculum include what we hope children will attain or achieve. Children’s body of knowledge develops and increases over time, and their desire to communicate and represent their knowledge should be acknowledged and supported. (Ruth Wilson, 2007).
As more children become curious and interested I started to work with small groups to find out what was their existing knowledge was about bees. While some other children weren’t quite as sure about their knowledge and were asking their friends many interesting questions such as “Do bees eat grass? Does the queen bee have a crown?” Here are some of our children’s initial thoughts;
Isla W: My bee has 10 legs and wings. They eat honey. They get honey from the flowers and mix it all up into honey. They live in a bee hive. I love honey.
Kalani: If you annoy bees they will sting you. They have stripes that tells you they are bees. They make honey for you to eat on your toast. They live in a hive. I’ve got a bee hive at my farm house. My Poppa gets the hive he has a special coat so the bees don’t get him.
Lali: A bee has wings and a stinger and I know it has stripes. They eat nectar from flowers and make honey. Bees live under ground.
Finn: They sting, bees have stripes across there and wings. They eat resin dripping down from trees. Sometimes they live in hives that’s where I think they live. They fly around using their wings and they fly from flower to flower to get pollen. I learned a lot about bees and stuff from my jungle book. I know they make honey. The bees drink honey and take it back to the hive, then put it in the little cave things to store it. I like honey yum.
Tamsyn: It has 1,2,3,4,5,6 legs, they fly with wings and eat nothing. They live in a bee hive with windows and a door. They make honey.
Alex: I think bees live in trees, I don’t know much about bees I only know all about chainsaws. Actually I have no idea. I know they move around by flying and I know they make honey. I saw one once on my chainsaw it looked like a little black dot. But I really have no idea about bees I only have ideas about chainsaws.
Willa: Bees eat honey, they have wings to fly. They live in a bee hive, they have heaps of legs. They have black stripes and on their body they are yellow. They have some eyes two, them have a mouth like this. They have a bumble thingee that stings. I got one on my finger near the cattery, it doesn’t sting now it’s better.
Jack: Bees have wings, a body, a stinger, eyes and a mouth. They are yellow. Bees live in a hive, they fly around the bee house and fly to get some honey. They eat honey and they make honey for people. The honey comes from flowers and then the bees make it into honey then the groceries man comes and get it and puts it in a box and then brings it to the grocery store then everybody buy it.
This term something pretty exciting happened we had a couple of local beekeepers, Karl and Nanette from Tahi honey visit kindergarten with a live display bee hive. Our children seemed pretty delighted and surprised when they arrived. Having experts from our community with such vast knowledge visit our kindergarten created many opportunities for hands-on learning for the children to look, listen, touch, pick apart, compare, explore and even taste.
The display hive was very fascinating, there were so many bees to observe. It was truly captivating to watch the bees and this seemed to spark the children’s curiosity and wonder. There were some wonderful conversations, I felt extremely privileged to be part of and here is a snippet of one of many discussions:
“The bees are flying”. “No they are buzzing.” “What’s that noise?” “I can hear them”. “I can’t”. “I can hear they are buzzing”. “I can see the queen”. “I can’t see the crown.” “The queen bee has a dot on it not a crown”. “I see they do have stripes”. “They make honey, I like honey”. “I like honey too”. “I really like honey, you have to be careful when getting the honey, they might sting you”.
“Curiosity is a hunger to explore and a delight in discovery. When we are curious, we approach the world with a child-like habit of poking and prodding and asking questions. We are attracted to new experiences. Rather than pursuing an agenda or a desired set of answers, we follow our questions where they lead. We learn for the joy of learning”. (Wisedom commons)
During our investigations we discovered some fascinating facts about bees, including that the display hive was full of mostly girl bees, they are queens or worker bees. The boys are drones and are slightly bigger in size, they don’t forage or help with hive tasks. The queen bee was in there laying eggs with capped brood (eggs), these will hatch as worker bees after 21 days. The average life span of worker bees is generally eight weeks in summer and up to twelve in winter. It takes eight worker bees their entire life to make one teaspoon of honey. The queen bee doesn’t wear a crown, to see the queen easier in a busy hive they have a dot of a variety of colours put on the head or body.
At the end of the visit we all had a special treat, we all got to taste real honey. It certainly seemed to be a real highlight, after all who doesn’t like a little bit of honey.
“If everything is honey and I am what I eat, I must be made of honey…and life is very sweet”. (Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne)
It was wonderful to watch our children displaying a sense of wonder and curiosity while learning about nature. The bees were very captivating which seemed to lead our children to seek a deeper understanding and have a thirst for knowledge. These are all great skills and characteristics to carry through life-long learning.“The pursuit of knowledge is never-ending. The day you stop seeking knowledge is the day you stop growing”. (Brandon Travis Ciaccio)
Mā te wā, Susie