Have you heard of Mason Bees? I hadn’t until a year ago. They are amazing, pollen passing, little critters who, not only help pollinate plants and trees, but also are a great tool for learning about life cycles and earth-friendly behaviors. Because they are very docile, you don’t need to worry about being stung.
Osmia Lignaria, referred to as the orchard mason bee or blue orchard bee, is the most common species found in the Pacific Northwest.
So, after seeing a variety of bee houses on the market and doing a little research, I decided I’d like to ‘raise’ some bees of our own, but I wanted my children to be engaged in the process. I learned that you can create nesting trays and cover them with plexiglass. Luckily, my husband has a router and some awesome skills. With a little poplar and plexiglass, we made our own nesting homes so our children can watch all of the action.
The next step is how to incorporate a literacy/science learning experience with these little momma bees.My children and I have done a lot of research. I’ve provided links below to some of the best resources I’ve found. We also have enjoyed a few children’s books.
Next, I created two items for my children to begin noting their observations about the bees. We are looking at what the bees do, how they do it, and incorporating information we’ve learned from a few Bee resources.As part of this process, we’ve also discussed where the bees are getting their nectar. We have a fairly small yard, but do have a few fruit trees and other edible plants. Our honey-crisp apple tree is completely benefiting from our hard working bees.
You can download these printables FREE to use with the children in your life.
Here are a few additional resources to get you started:
- Pollination with Mason Bees – Dr. Margriet Dogterom
- Mason Bees for the backyard gardener – Sherian Wright
- http://crownbees.com/raise-bees/ (detailed yearly calendar for care of your bees)
- https://beediverse.com/blog/ (great products for bee-keeping)
- http://www.seenature.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/FoE-UK-Bee-Identification-Guide.pdf http://www.seenature.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Let-me-tell-you-about-the-Bees-Lifecycles.pdf
Links to interesting videos and websites:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpuL17aqExAdvanced Design Settings
If you think that mason bees would be a great addition to your backyard or outdoor school environment, check out these printables I created. Hopefully they will be a helpful addition to your next science unit.
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