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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I recently posted this on another thread, and it was suggested that a new one be started instead.

Hi: I teach life science to 7th graders, and have been introducing them to beekeeping. I've been trying to figure out activities that I can do with a group of about 20 at a time that is interesting, useful, and safe for all of us (including those that are allergic to stings). To that end, after showing them that we can open a hive with a bit of smoke and that the bees will be peaceful if we are gentle and patient in our movements (at least ours are), I wanted to get their interest piqued a bit more. To that end, I've been having them sit by the entrance to the hives and divide themselves into two groups - those that count pollen carriers, and those that count bees that don't (drones excluded). One student is a time keeper and we do the activity for two minutes. Recently we saw a high of 8 bees with pollen and 28 bees with nectar or water in two minutes (on two different nucs). On another day we saw different numbers. This led them to discuss why, and consider the different reasons that this situation changes. While this is a new activity for us, we'll be doing it again since the kids are interested in seeing what the high count might be.

It gave us a snap shot on a few beautiful days of some hives' activities and got the kids more interested in the overall workings of the hive beyond the "well, that's cool -so what" first impressions of opening a hive.

Any way, my ramblings have two points. One that careful observations help inform decisions and conclusions (a few books have been written about this), and I'd like it very much if someone has some other ideas of what I can do with a large group of kids (~20) that will get them involved and engaged actively with the bees, with a low likely hood of getting stung. I have a small group of students who are willing to take the risks and dive right in, but I'm trying to reach the fringe group whose positive experience will modify their misperceptions and fears.

Omie suggested:
One idea for the kids who are either allergic to stings or just afraid of bees in general is to gather a few drones perhaps in a screen box or net for them to examine, touch, or observe, away from the other bees and the hive. Drones have no stingers and thus are harmless.
Another idea for those children is to gather a few perfect dead bees and let them draw them and learn the names of the parts of the body.
Also if the children could find bees pollinating any flowers nearby, they could then identify the flowers and make a list, or even collect the flowers and press them and make a collection of flowers the local bees like.
Just a few thoughts.
Great that you are doing that!

Honeybeekeeper suggested: a demonstration cage

here's a link to some pictures: http://s460.photobucket.com/albums/qq324/pbuhler/Students around bees 2010/

Thanks to them and for any additional suggestions or ideas.. Paul
 

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I was going to suggest a solar wax melter, but I see you already have a pic of that....it's definately something they could do bee related, without the possibility of the sting

crushing and srtaining some honey comb would be fun for them(at first, anyway!)

I admire what you're doing with the kids. I may check with my kids teachers and see if maybe I can do some stuff bee related at their school...I already incubate a few chicken eggs every year for them..why not add some honey bees too?!
 

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If you have 28 days, approximately, I would say to get an observation hive with a frame of eggs with stores but no queen. Set it up in your classroom where the students will be able to watch the making of a queen from start to finish. They will be able to observe first hand all the inner workings of a hive, with all the tasks being performed by the bees, as well as the raising of a queen from an emergency queen loss situation.
 

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Wow, Paul. What a wonderful teacher you are to these children. You are giving them a life time of caring about our winged friends, even those that are scared of them. I only hope when my children get older they will get lucky to have a teacher like you. Great job and good luck..Anna
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies and suggestions. If you have any more please post them. I've taken the dead bee idea to an "under the microscope" activity. We also look at empty drawn comb and look for small cells , drone cells, and remnants of queen cells, and other elements like propolis, bridge comb, and the colors of comb. I've let the students handle and explore all our equipment - really what can they harm? One touch of the hot spots on the smoker makes everyone cautious.
I'm looking to get a freshly dead queen (bite my toungue) and drone for size comparisons. I'll be getting an extractor this summer so that extraction can be added to the curriculum. As mentioned, a solar wax melter is underconstruction, and the first wax is being used to re-coat Pierco frames - something that the kids can do.

I'm trying to figure out how we can weigh the hives easily and inexpensively - a large tripod with a spring scale attached to a hive banding system?

Anyway, I'd like others to brainstorm too and share their ideas;if anyone is interested in developing a "Bees lesson unit" with me I'd be happy to collaborate. Thanks again. Paul
 
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