Thursday, August 8, 2013

Honey Bee Homeschool Unit Schedule and Lesson Plan

Bees are such a fascinating subject. This unit took us all over the place---history, biology, chemistry---and we loved it. I was amazed how many books and resources there were about this kind of specialized topic. I guess honey is kind of trendy right now (urban beekeeping etc.), so that leads to more readily available resources. Yay.

I don't know if I can even choose what my favorite thing was to learn about, but something I had never heard before (it was discovered relatively recently, I guess) is that the queen can actually choose whether she wants to lay a fertilized or an unfertilized egg. She mates with the drones near the beginning of her life, then just stores their sperm in her body (a place called the spermatheca) and opens the "gate" when she wants to let one out to fertilize an egg. The unfertilized eggs become new drones. Isn't that amazing?? (see more here and here)
The way the bees communicate through dancing is really fascinating too, and there are still so many other mysteries about how their bodies work, and how they interact as a community. We learned so many things and yet I feel like we didn't even scratch the surface of all there is to know.

A few general links that don't really fit on any of the other posts for this unit:

We highly recommend this movie (we watched it on Netflix) even though it was written by the insufferable Thomas Friedman and has some factual errors (like that bees die after they sting wasps or hornets---actually, their stingers only come out when they sting mammals). It has lots of cool close-up shots of bees in the hive and in flight.

This site shows an approximation of how bees see the world.

These flower photos are interesting too (although I'm not sure they're as accurate)

This video is great; it shows the life cycle of a yellow jacket by dissecting a yellow jacket nest

This is a fun project: counting bees!

This is a huge packet containing tons of bee-related lesson plans. We used a few pages from this packet, but there are lots of good things we didn't use.

Here is my Pinterest page for the Bee Unit. I've just started doing this, and have found it helpful to use Pinterest to gather ideas, but not ideal---it bothers me that you can't pin PDFs, for example, and some videos. So I can't actually put all my resources in one place. But it is a useful tool.
Our bee bulletin board

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