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Bee-utiful Bees!

I live in Central Illinois and we are harvesting apples here! This is a perfect time for my kinders to learn how bees help apples to grow!
We sing the parts of an insect:
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen
I have 6 long legs and compound eyes
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen!
(Tune: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes)

We explore how insects see through their compound eyes.
We learn how bees gather pollen and nectar from blossoms.

This is not my original idea. I think that I got the idea from a Mailbox magazine a few years ago. You will need a bag of Cheese Puffs or Cheese popcorn, life savers, and a large bowl. I drew flower petals onto construction paper and used masking tape to attach to the sides of the bowl. Put life savers (nectar) in the bottom of a large bowl and cover them with Cheetos (pollen). The children take turns plunging their hands into the Cheetos in search of the life savers. When they remove their hands from the Cheetos, there should be “pollen” all over their hands! Wow – just like the body of a bee looks as it moves from blossom to blossom gathering nectar.

We make a Styrofoam bee.

Directions for Bee:

Supplies per student: 3 two-inch Styrofoam balls, (Styrofoam balls can be pricey, so I ask each parent to supply 3 for their own child. They often come 6 to a package and many parents are willing to share their package with a family that cannot afford to purchase them. You can get Styrofoam balls at Michaels and Hobby Lobby. Sometimes you can get them at Wal-Mart in the craft department. Make sure that they are craft balls and not floral balls. Floral Styrofoam is harder than craft Styrofoam and difficult for little fingers to use!)
1 wooden kabob stick, black felt cut into 1/2 inch strips, 4 black pipe cleaners, 2 large craft jewels, plastic (I use laminating film scraps) or waxed paper, 1 coffee stirrer or small diameter straw, yellow paint (I use Tempera), straight pins, 6 yellow pony beads

Teacher does steps 1,9, and 10.
Step 1: Push the Styrofoam balls through the wooden kabob stick. Seal with hot glue where Styrofoam balls meet. Trim the ends if the stick is too long.

Students do Steps 2 - 8
Step 2: Paint all three Styrofoam balls with yellow paint. Let dry.
Step 3: Use straight pins to attach black felt strips to the abdomen.

Step 4: Push black pipe cleaners into the thorax. I cut them in half - three to a side. Thread yellow beads to the back legs. These are the pollen baskets.

Step 5: Cut a coffee stirrer in half. Push into head for a mouth. (A bee has a mouth like a straw.)
Step 6: Cut a black pipe cleaner into thirds. Use two of them for antennae. Push into the top of the head.

Step 7: Draw 4 ovals onto plastic film or waxed paper. Cut out.
Step 8: Attach wings to thorax with straight pins.

Step 9: Use tacky glue or hot glue to attach the eyes. I use craft jewels with facets to make them look like compound eyes. (Students can do this step if you use tacky glue. It frustrates them, though, when their eyes don't stick right away! :) That is why I let them pick out their eyes and I hot glue them to the head!)
Step 10: Push an opened paper clip into the top of the thorax for a hook to hang your bee.
Seal with hot glue.

This is such a fun project for my students to do! When they are finished, they can name all the parts of an insect, tell me how many legs an insect has, and what type of mouth part a bee has and how it uses it! It is well worth the time it takes to complete!


  1. Oh my gosh! How adorable!! We will be doing Honey Bees in about 6 weeks and will definately be using some of your ideas!! Thanks so much for sharing!
    PS: Discovery Streaming has A Magic School Bus Bee Hive video. I show this to my students when we study bees. You can use the book too if you don't have access to streaming videos.

  2. Our school used to have a subscription to Discovery Streaming, but no more. It made me sad because they have so much cool stuff there! I used it a lot when we had it! I do use a Magic School House DVD with this unit, though -perhaps it is the same one?
    The bees that we make with this unit are so much fun - I hope you get a chance to try them!


  3. Our school is thinking of cutting our subscription but I have a very loud voice and am doing my best to show that I use it along with many others. I may have to start downloading a ton just in case!

  4. Central Illinois??? I grew up in Mattoon and graduated from EIU! Small world =) And love the activity! So cute!

  5. Wow! It IS a small world! I live in Champaign - just about an hour away!