Lesson 1: Pollination: Honeybees in their Ecosystem
Objective: Students will gain a basic knowledge of the process of pollination, how it provides us with food, and how food production is affected by seasonal differences and environmental disturbances. They will also gain a stronger sense of relation to honeybees.
Agriculture is a critical component of our food systems
Pollination is a vital element of agriculture and honeybees are a key pollinators
Without pollination plants are unable to produce fruit
Seasonal weather cycles affect food production systems
AcademicState Standards Covered:
4.2.4 Renewable and
A. Identify the
needs of people
A. Know that
plants, animals and humans are dependent on air and water.
A. Know the
importance of agriculture to humans
influence of agriculture on food, clothing, shelter and culture
and their Interactions
A. Understand that
living things are dependent on nonliving things in the environment for
B. Understand the
concept of cycles.
C. Identify how
ecosystems change over time.
headbands to distinguish honeybees, trees, and apple farmer
Strips of paper to
represent pollen (around 300)
Envelopes (one for
each apple tree)
honeybees/ observation hive if available
Opening (10 min.):
sit in a circle with instructor. Students are prompted to list what they know
about honeybees (this is used as a beginning gauge of the student’s current
impressions of bees). Instructor tells students that today they will be
learning more about how important honeybees are to us.
Introduction to New
Material (10 min.):
will be asked to list their favorite fruits. Instructor will explain that
honeybees help the plants that provide us with these fruits to make fruit
through a process called pollination. Honeybees fly from plant to plant
collecting pollen in their pollen baskets, and nectar in their honey stomachs.
When they move from one plant to another, they take pollen from one and leave
some on the next plant, pollinating it. If bees do not visit these plants, they
will not be able to produce fruit. When they have filled their honey stomachs
and pollen baskets, the bees return to their hives and store their collected
pollen and nectar in the honeycomb to make honey. Allow time for questions.
Activity (25 min.):
Instructor will assign different roles: 1/3
of class will act as apple trees and the rest as honeybees
Each apple tree will be given a basket/
envelope with paper strips representing pollen. Each honeybee will have a
headband or hat distinguishing them as a honeybee.
Tape off (or distinguish in some other way)
an area of the classroom to be the beehive. Tell honeybees that they start
and end each season by going inside of their hive. Position apple trees on
the other side of the classroom (make sure that it will be safe for
children to run back and forth from trees and hive). This may be best
Instructor will tell the class that they
are an apple farmer; an apple farm is called an orchard. Explain that in
order for an apple tree to produce apples, each apple blossom needs to be
pollinated by a honeybee. Tell the apple trees that each time a honeybee
comes up to their tree, they need to give it a piece of their pollen, and
if the bee has a piece of pollen it its hand they need to take the pollen
and put it in their basket.
Explain that at the end of the season, each
apple tree will give the new pollen strips that they received to the apple
farmer and we will count how many apples the orchard grew that season.
Allow one minute for each season.
Season 1: Standard explained above
Season 2: It has been colder than normal,
honeybees are slow and sluggish. (Tell all honeybees that they must fly
in slow motion.)
Season 3: A virus has infected the hive.
Explain that honeybees can get sick just like humans. Only half bees are
left to pollinate. (Half of the honeybees sit out this season.)
Season 4: The hive grew to become
overcrowded and half the honeybees swarmed, leaving the orchard to find a
new home. (Half of the honeybees sit out this season.)
Season 5: An ice storm this past winter
has damaged our apple trees. Now only half of the branches on each tree
have pollen. (Take half of the pollen from each apple tree).
Season 6: It has been a cold, damp summer.
Honeybees have been forced to stay inside their hive often. (Tell
honeybees that after each apple tree visit, they have to run back to
their hive before going to a new tree).
At the conclusion of each season collect
pollen strips from each tree. Count them with the class and write in a
visible location how many apples the farm was able to produce each season.
* This activity was
adapted from “Buzzy, Buzzy, Bee,” Project
Food, Land & People, 2003)
Assessment/ Closing (10 min.):
Have everyone sit back in a circle (with apple
totals still visible) and ask what they notice about the amount of apples
produced each season. Talk about how the different variables of each season
affect all food production systems. Ask each student (proceeding around the
circle) to identify one thing that they learned about honeybees or pollination