The third-graders were treated to a honey of a presentation last week. Carol McBryde and Kathy Abdullah from the Florida Beekeepers Association visited JCDS along with some buzzing friends to educate the students about the importance of bees. They were introduced by Ms. Rose Ennis, Pre-K 4 teacher and a beekeeper herself.
The presentation tied in to the students' science unit on life cycles.
“Bees are essential workers for the health of people and our planet,” said Ms. Ennis. “They are responsible for a third of our food — losing them would have a terrible impact on food supplies.”
Honey bees are extremely useful for pollination and honey production. Ms. Abdullah explained how honeybees pollinate many plants, which account for about a third of what we eat.
“Honey is bee throw-up,” exclaimed third grader Jeremy S.
More specifically, the nectar a honey bee gathers is refined within a bee’s body, and regurgitated within the hive. Water evaporation causes the honey to thicken.
To demonstrate how pollination works, Ms. McBryde and Ms. Abdullah passed out bags of Cheetos. The student stuck their hands in the bags and found they had cheesy, powdery fingers — similar to what happens with bees and pollen. When bees go deep into a flower to collect nectar, the pollen sticks to their hairy bodies. When the bee visits another flower, some of the pollen will rub off inside the new flower. Similarly, when the students wipe their hands on their pants, they are depositing some of the orange dust there.
Third grader Mia M. pointed out that bees help keep us healthy by pollinating all the fruits and vegetables.
“They fly from place to place and get pollen on their feet and take it to other plants,” Mia said.
A commercial beehive is basically a box with a removable cover. Inside, a series of frames support the hexagonal honeycombs of wax where the bees deposit the honey.
The students passed around one of the frames that still had a slight scent of honey.
"It smells gooood," said Vivian W. as she sniffed the frame.
Bees themselves have a keen sense of smell. The lingering aroma of the frames and the observation hive attracted the attention of a few random bees from the area.
The students were fascinated by what they learned about the queen bee. The queen has a long body compared to workers and she may lay up to 1500 eggs a day.
“The ruler wants to be the ruler,” said Mia M.
If something happens to the queen, the worker bees clean the cells to prepare for the next eggs. The larvae are fed a diet of “royal jelly.” When the first one hatches, she stings the other larvae to kill them, so that she is the only remaining queen.
The new queen survives because she does not have a barb on her stinger. The worker bees have barbs, and when they sting something (or someone) the stinger pulls out of the bee’s body and it dies.
When it comes time to harvest the honey from the hive, the beekeepers first light a bee smoker. To demonstrate, Ms. Abdullah lit some pine straw in a canister. This smoke doesn’t harm bees, it just interferes with their sense of smell so they don’t react to alarm pheromones. This makes the bees calm enough to open the hive.
A couple of lucky students had the chance to try on a beekeepers' suit complete with gloves and a netted hat to see how it felt to wear.
So when you go to smell the flowers and you see some bees, you know they are hard at work.
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Located in Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Country Day School is a private school for Pre-K 3 through 6th grade. JCDS prepares students for a healthy and productive lifetime of intellectual exploration, character development, and social responsibility.