Learning about bees 

If you’re in the UK, I hope you’re enjoying the gorgeous weather we’ve been having! We’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors, and Frida has been learning about bees at the moment. Although I didn’t plan it, I have had a couple of opportunities to facilitate some hands-on learning experiences for her.

There are so many of these amazing creatures around at the moment, it is easy to observe them flying, resting, or collecting pollen from the flowers which are in bloom. We are very lucky to have a garden, which makes this observation easy! It also means that occasionally bees fly into our home, and sadly, sometimes perish, or are unwell.

Recently we found a dead bee, so I thought I would set up a simple piece of observation work for Frida. I put the bee in a bug viewer, provided her with a magnifying glass, and that was that.

Frida was interested in this, although it didn’t hold her attention for as long as I thought it would. I think she still struggles with holding the magnifying glass at an optimal distance, and as she is quite hands on she likes to be doing something. She declined to touch the bee, though watched me as I gently handled it, pointing out the parts of its body.

We also were able to have an impromptu lesson in the care of animals through finding a poorly bee in our home. I showed Frida to mix sugar and water, then give some to the bee for energy. We took it outside, and eventually moved it onto a plant (with a few drops of sugar to speed it on its way).

I’m not confident it survived long, but it was a good opportunity for Frida to experience caring for a living creature, as well as a great chance to observe the bee drinking with its tongue.

We’ve been reading about bees too (and bugs in general – there are so many to look at around this time of year).

We especially like Insect Emporium, a gorgeous book which I would recommend to any family, and Bee: Nature’s tiny miracle (Britta Teckentrup) which is a beautifully illustrated tale of bees collecting pollen, with peek-through cut-outs which are so appealing to small children. For older children, I really recommend Nature Anatomy (Julia Rothman) which has a section on bees and is great for nature study and journal inspiration.

Sadly our bee theme took an unexpected turn for the worse when Frida somehow managed to step on a bee which had found its way into our dining room, getting a sting on the sole of her foot in the process. She was fine, though upset at the time, and it gave us a whole-family, unplanned lesson in bee stings, how to deal with them, and why they happen.

It made me feel quite relieved that we had done our bee study before the sting, as I’m not sure how keen she will be to talk about them or be near them for a little while (I haven’t removed the bee observation work from her shelf but may do so, following her lead). I hope this experience won’t leave her afraid of insects, and we were careful to explain that the sting had only occurred due to the bee being trodden on.

I hope all your children avoid stings, but if they do, here’s the NHS advice on treating them and what to look out for. 

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