Bees - A Unit Study

on Monday, March 23, 2009

Yesterday a fascinating thing happened. We were shocked and amazed at God's handiwork. And as home schoolers, it was a dream come're definitely not going to get this in a traditional school.

Here's the story: While sitting on our back deck, my middle school daughter and her friend saw a swarm of bees fly by. No big deal...they didn't even it happens everyday, right? My high school son saw them as well, as they came around to the side of the house. There, they swarmed for about an hour, around a bush outside my window.

It was like something out of Alfred Hitchcock. We watched and watched this chaos eventually become perfect order. Can you see a unit study in the making?

After a good long swarm, which we so bravely watched from inside the house, they collected themselves. You see....the queen attached herself to a branch and then everyone else hung on to her and each other. They were not using any other branch to hold onto, just her. All these little workers were dependent on that one bee...the queen.

After much discussion about who's property they were actually on...ours or the neighbors...the neighbor called the Atlanta Bee Society. They said they would send some one first thing in the morning to get them. Also, telling us there would be 200-300 "guard" bees that would remain near the site. Their job is to fly all night long guarding the hive from so far away that we don't see them at all. These bees will eventually die without a queen.

As it was getting cooler, around 6:00 in the evening....they settled in for the night and made their "nest", a nice tight shape and hunkered in. These little creatures are sooooooo valuable to our everyday life. There was never a thought of fuming them out. We've had such a shortage of honey bees in the past few years due to a virus that has killed up to 80% of the bees in some parts of the world.

This is the 6:00 a.m. photo. They're still all nestled in their beds.

But this little beauty....will be their new home.

But not before they have their morning "coffee" or should I say..."smoke".

This kindly bee keeper fellow suited up and

began smoking himself so they would not "smell" him. I wouldn't want to be mistaken for a human while facing thousands of bees protecting their "mama".

He bravely cut the branch and slid them into the box. It took them a few minutes to reorganize around the beloved queen....they're so loyal to her ! But they made a new home and made the best of the transition. We said good-bye to our short lived friendship and thought that was the end of a once in a lifetime opportunity. But.....

This is what appeared when the sun came up....are these the guard bees clinging to the last scent of the queen the queen still here....? It's all a mystery....
If you've ever questioned the presence of God...this would rest all your questions....who could think this up and then make it happen? and then make it happen for thousands of years? Who? That's a whole unit study in and of itself.

Side note: While these unit studies are a ton of fun for the student, it wears me out....I went from doing one a month to one a year.....and in the last 2 years...none. But..., I swear!!! I want to!!!! Don't I have good excuses ;) It does get me excited about the education process and not just go through the routine of shoving information in and having the child vomit it back out.
Lovely...Lindsey...thank you for that. Anyway, here goes:

Here's a few ideas for unit studies beginning with bees, notice it's not just about science; it's everything from poetry and art to political science and chemistry. All this from a little bee:

1-Build a bee and hive out of household items, build a "mini" book (see Dina Zeke's books for ideas on how wild and creative she gets with these).

2-Label and color a bee, then "teach" it to the family at the dinner table

3-Learning all the bee jobs, names, sizes etc. Seasons of bees etc., Pollination studies, what happens when there's not enough pollination?

4-Give an oral presentation to "hone in" (pun intended) on those public speaking skills, include comedy into your routing like: 'Put that in your pipe and "smoke" it!'

5-Write a poem or haiku about bees, use alliterations etc. or write a song!

6-Study migration patterns and climate affects, weather patterns etc., effects of pesticides on bees,

7-Research origins of bee keeping, economics of bee keeping, country of origin etc. Any kings or "Queens" interested in bee keeping?

8-Study the importance of order and authority involving large groups of anything. This could lead to study of the military (for older boys)....or ballet, or any team sport depending on what your child is interested in. What happens when the authority figure dies or is impaired or changes....This could lead to a political science discussion....what happens when we get a new president (a lot of chaos and disorganization at first???)

9-Obedience studies...the importance of everyone having a job and no matter how big or small a job's still important to the whole "hive". What happens with anarchy? Research examples of anarchy in history on several continents and discuss the affects of it on society as a whole.

10- All of these ideas could be used to write essays of any length. Or have students make up word problems using bees or finding the "area" of a typical hive....

I could go on and on...unit studies are so much fun and they are great for getting students to use their brain creatively to solve problems. Think about that concept for a second...creative thinking...and solving problems is every thing to an adult... It's everything from solving the problems at AIG to getting a toddler potty trained.

Digest that for a moment and ask yourself if you're investing "that" into your child....or are you just concerned they turn their homework in on time or what they got on the last test? Hey, I'm not throwing stones here ...I'm just as guilty...but it does make me think about the bigger picture of their lives. What am I doing here to shape their heart...their mind? What will He say to me on THAT day? "Well done, good and faithful servant"? Gosh....I hope so.

Enjoy and let your mind run free with the meantime...I've got to... "buzz" off.

4 Comments from you:

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Hey, what a great experience. You did a great unit study lesson. We homeschool too, although we are on the last round.

Thanks for sharing.


Carrie P. said...

Wow, Lindsey what an awesome picture. My husband took at bee keeping class at the local agriculture center and he said those bees might have stayed there if they liked it or they would have been gone the next day depending on what the queen liked.
I loved doing unit studies when we homeschooled. So much fun and I learned a lot too.

Jodi@SimplyThisThat n.. said...

Reading your post on Bee's made me think of these. A leader of our church who has since passed gave a wonderful talk and talked about the 6 B's. Just thought I'd share.
1. Be grateful.

2. Be smart.

3. Be clean.

4. Be true.

5. Be humble.

6. Be prayerful.

Billy said...

Yay Bees!

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