(Contenido disponible en Español está marcado abajo)
Although some people are afraid of bees, these fuzzy friends are an extremely important part of our ecosystem! Honey bees are responsible for as much as $5.2 billion of agriculture production in the United States alone! Let’s learn more about these important pollinators.
Common Chicago bees
When we talk about bees, we’re often talking about bumble bees or honey bees. But did you know there are other types of bees you might encounter in Chicago? Click here to check out our helpful guide of six common Chicago bees.
Guiding Question: What differences do you see between these bees? What similarities?
How do bees pollinate?
We often refer to bees as pollinators…but how do they pollinate? Bees drink flower nectar. When they drink, they also gather pollen on their fuzzy bodies. They use their legs to scrape the pollen into their pollen baskets on their back legs, but not all of the pollen makes it there. When they visit another flower, some of that pollen rubs off onto the flower’s pistil. This fertilizes the flower, and causes it to reproduce through fruit and seeds.
Guiding Question: What special body parts to bees have to help them get nectar? Gather pollen? Pollinate flowers?
Beekeeping at the Nature Museum
Did you know that we have our own rooftop bee hives? Not only do they help pollinate the plants on our grounds and other nearby areas, they also give us the opportunity to harvest honey. Click here to see how Allen and his volunteer, Anne, work with them.
Guiding Question: What did you notice about the scientists as they worked with the bees? Why do you think the Nature Museum has these hives on their roof?
We don’t have all of our favorite Story Time books at home with us right now, but Janelle used the Internet Archive’s digital library and found a great book! Click here to listen to her read “Are You a Bee?”
Teaching Tip: Expand Story Time thoughts with our graphic organizer. Click here to download it to guide your young scientist’s discussions during and after Story Time!
How can I help bees?
Help our native bees by creating nesting resources from everyday materials or simply adjusting how you care for your yard! Check out these guides from Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. You can also check out this DIY guide to making pollinator hotels from our friends at the Lincoln Park Conservancy!
P.S. Did you make a buzzworthy bee home? Share the your final project with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
Match the pollinator!
(Disponible en español)
Bees aren’t the only pollinators! Click here to download our card sort game and see if you can match the pollinator to their flower.
Behind the scenes!
While she was out for a walk, Nature Museum team member Janelle encountered a bitty bee! It landed and rested on her for a minute before flying away. Can you see the pollen baskets on its back legs?