April 20, 2016

Students this week were particularly interested in pollination. After learning about how our food is pollinated from the short videos we've been watching, a discussion began about how we should love honeybees because without them we wouldn't have any food one student said "Well we would still have beef" and in response to my question about what cows eat, the ever enlightened Purple Room students responded "grass!" Touché, Purple Room - grass is a plant that does not rely on pollination to propagate itself.  But I was determined to drive the point home - if we want to eat delicious berries, fruit and most vegetables in the future we need to take care of our friendly honeybees! Having a taste of honey at the end of our work time helps engender positive feelings toward bees. 

Kids have been really interested in the Queen bee and the role of the drone (male) bees this week. We know all the worker bees, the majority of the colony, are females and we know there is only one queen who's only job is to lay eggs. We also know there are a few drone bees per hive, but they don't help make the honey or take care of the larvae. In fact they have only one job - to fertilize the queen. 

Today we touched on the Queen's nuptial flight - the only time she leaves the hive, and the only time the drones are required. We did not watch the linked video but please feel free to watch it with your child at home! It depicts a new queen's mating flight when she leaves the hive and a swarm of drones follows her to fertilize her - the only fertilization she will need for the rest of her egg-laying life. The lucky drone who fertilizes her is killed in the process. The rest of the drones return to the hive and freeload for the rest of their lives - sometimes they are kicked out, but there are so few of them that they don't drain too many resources. It's interesting to see kids think about gender roles in other species.