Why Bees Matter

Why Bees Matter

Bees are incredibly important for our planet, but in recent years we’ve seen a big decline in the number of bees bumbling around. So, what’s the buzz on bees?

We’ve created a short animated video for you to share with your learners, which discusses the basics of the issues surrounding bees. In addition, below you can find lots of interesting facts that you can discuss with your class.

Why Bees Matter

Bees are perfectly adapted to help plants grow, breed, and produce food via pollination.

Bees pollinate around 80% of food crops around the world. They also spread pollen between all flowering plants on the planet, including 80% of wildflowers in Europe. This process of pollination helps plants to form seeds which then produces more plants. In addition, bees pollinate grass, which is the main food for cattle to produce meat and dairy products.

Without bees to pollinate them, there would be fewer plants on earth. Plantlife cleans the air we breathe by absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment and producing oxygen.

Whilst bees aren’t our only pollinators, they are the most effective. Whilst other insects only visit enough flowers to feed themselves, bees gather pollen to stock their nests. This means they visit many more flowers and carry more pollen.

Bees produce honey, which is a highly nutritious food with medicinal benefits too. They also produce beeswax, which is used to make candles and polish.

And it’s not just food that bees help us with. If you are wearing cotton, the cotton plant that the threads come from was pollinated too.

Bee Facts

1. There are over 20,000 known species of bee in the world

2. Around 270 species of bee have been recorded in the UK

3. Only one of these is the Honeybee, which are kept by beekeepers in hives

4. The rest of our bees are wild including 25 bumblebee species and 220 types of solitary bee

Why Are Bees in Trouble?

Many of the wildflowers that bees love have disappeared in recent years as land has been taken for building developments or intensive farming. Therefore, there is a decreased amount of nectar and pollen available for them to eat and store.

In addition, many pesticides and fungicides that farmers use to protect their plants, are harmful to bees.

How Can We Help?

If you have a garden at school or at home, why not sow some wildflowers for the bees to enjoy? The flowers will look beautiful throughout the summer months.

Have you seen PTS bee seeds? They’re available now on the website, along with our brand new ‘Why Bees Matter’ Posters, Early Years Bee Reward Stickers, and Save The Bees Stickers.

Also, herbs make our food taste great, and they provide bees with lots of pollen and nectar. Why not plant a variety of herbs in a pot for everyone to enjoy.

Support honeybees by purchasing honey from local beekeepers. For more information about honeybees check out Northumberland Honey’s blog.

Cross-Curricular Bee Activities

There are lots of ways to talk about bees across the primary curriculum:

Maths

You could talk about the hexagonal properties of honeycombs. Why would this shape be suitable for honeycomb? Can you think of any other geometrical shapes in nature? For more information about hexagonal honeycomb, take a look at the Science Friday website.

Science

Growing plants – investigate the process of pollination of plants by bees and other insects.

Habitats – where do different kinds of bees live? Why might these environments be ideal?

Beeswax – Melting beeswax gives us a great opportunity to discuss melting points, solids, and liquids. A benefit of beeswax candles is that they do not release toxic petroleum chemicals into the atmosphere.

Cookery

Eating local honey is a fantastic way to support beekeepers and their hives. Why not have a honey tasting session in class? You could also discuss the medicinal benefits of honey.

Art

Why not have a class competition to see who can create the best bee? You could create paintings or 3D sculptures.

English

There are many references to honey in historical literature and poetry. Or, why not create your own bee-themed poems in class?

Music

A great new poem about bees (see below) has been written by Bjorn Ulvaeus and set to music by Benny Anderson of Abba. Why not teach this new song for a bee-themed assembly for the whole school?

BUMBLEBEE

He likes the lilacs in my garden,
I love to watch him fly,
He’s just a tiny, fuzzy ball,
And I wonder how he can fly at all.

A world without him,
I dread to think what that would be,
And I imagine my distress,
It would be a new kind of loneliness.

But for now, I’m in my garden,
Watching clouds sail with the breeze,
Feeling carefree as I listen,
To the hum of bumblebees.

It’s quite absurd this summer morning,
To think we could be trapped,
Inside a world where all is changing,
Too fast for bumblebees to adapt.

From thyme to bluebell,
From hyacinth to lily rose,
Oh, how I do adore the sight,
Of his rather clumsy, erratic flight.

And for now, I’m in my garden,
Watching clouds sail with the breeze,
Feeling carefree as I listen,
To the hum of bumblebees.

Yes, for now, I’m in my garden,
Watching clouds sail with the breeze,
Feeling sad for those who’d never,
Hear the hum of bumblebees.

Bumblebee lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

There is a video lyric prompt on YouTube here.

An instrumental version here.

And sheet music here.

Alternatively, create your own bee songs.

We would love to know how you’ve been teaching your pupils about bees. Let us know in the comments section below.

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