Bee Buzz — Let’s Dance and Pollinate

Visiting the Bee Pavilion at the National Zoo.

What’s the buzz? It’s time to dive deeper into the hive to learn about pollination and communication. We will learn the waggle dance, discover how bees communicate, and explore our backyard pollinators. We even get started on planting a pollinator garden. Art activities, read alouds and bee yoga can all be found in the original What’s the Buzz activities. Today Dr. Stephanie of George Mason University is our guide to the buzztacular honey bees! Below are activities that all have a Bee Buzz theme. These activities include things that will help your child develop fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and engineering skills, and can help them engage in cooperative play, while fostering creativity and perseverance. We even include a read aloud of Give Bees a Chance from Handley Regional Library’s Katie Moss. Feel free to throw in your own activities that might relate, and don’t forget to post your results to social media and tag @discoverymuse to share with everyone else!

Let’s Start With A Waggle!

Try This: How can you tell someone what you want without using any words, just your body? 

  • Get a partner from your family. 
  • Make some cards with specific tasks on them (e.g. I want cake. I need a nap. I have to go to the bathroom. I want to go for a walk. What time is it? Can I have that book? Can I have that toy (pick one)?)
  • Pick a card. Without showing it to your partner, try to get them to understand what the card says without using any words. You can only use your body and gestures to demonstrate.
  • When they guess correctly, switch roles. Now you do the guessing and they do the acting.
Can YOU do the waggle dance? Did you know that bees communicate without words? Find out how in this fun video where Dr Diane and the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum help you get your wiggles out. Special thanks to Mr. Mark for the animated science content!

Did you know that bees communicate without words? They use their vibrating abdomens in a waggle dance to tell the other bees where to find the best nectar.  

Physical Activity: Can YOU do the waggle dance? Go outside and do a dance to show your family (the other bees in your colony) where to find the best flowers! Take some video or take a picture and share it with us @discoverymuse on social media. We’d love to see your family waggle!

How do you and your family recognize each other? How do you know the people who live in your house? As Dr. Stephanie shows us, bees share this information through chemicals they excrete and through picking them up with their antennae.  For example, all bees in the hive have a particular odor that they can detect on each other –guard bees at the hive check the bees who come in to make sure that they are all coming home to the right hive and to repel intruders. 

Science, Art and Nature:

 Plan and Plant a Pollinator Garden
What’s the buzz? Nature walks and pollinator gardens of course. Go on a nature walk with Dr. Diane and look for signs of spring while dreaming about what to plant in your pollinator garden.

What is pollination? What pollinates what? In this video, Dr. Stephanie teaches us about the relationship between bees and other pollinators and their environment. We explore flower characteristics that attract different kinds of pollinators (color, shape and location of flower and where the nectar/pollen is).  She demonstrates nectar guides.  Plus we learn about the value of flowers for bees and what makes pollinator gardens work best – having a variety of flowers, especially natives, that bloom at different times of year.

Discover what pollination is and who your backyard pollinators are in this exploration with Dr. Stephanie.
Fine Motor Activity — Plan and Plant Your Own  Pollinator Garden

For this activity, you’ll need:

  •  a piece of paper
  • markers, colored pencils, or crayons
  • a ruler
  • the pollinator garden links below
  • your imagination!

Directions:

Spend time outside, observing flowers and what pollinators come to visit them. This is a great activity to use with your nature journal.

  • What types of insects or other animals are visiting which flowers?
  • Are some flowers visited more often or only by certain pollinators?
  • What time of day are the pollinators busier or are the flowers more visited?
  • What kinds of paths do the pollinators take as they move among flowers?
  • Which types of pollinators hover and which ones perch or rest on the flower?
  • What do you notice about the shape of the flowers you see that helps out the different kinds of pollinators?
  • If you see a variety of plants and flowers in a garden on your walk, do you also see more different kinds of pollinators?
  • Choose a range of flower shapes and sizes to suit the feeding preferences of a variety of pollinators.
  • Include a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the season. By doing so, you will help provide food for different stages of your pollinators’ life cycles. For instance, flowering shrubs and trees tend to blossom early in the season, providing nectar or pollen when other food is scarce.
  • On your piece of paper — mark off what you plan to plant and where. Pay attention to how much space you need between different plants. Color them in and create your pollinator garden.
  • Extra bonus points if you actually plant your garden outside. Observe all season long as the plants bloom and the pollinators visit your garden. Keep track of your observations in your nature journal.

Art and Physical Activity

Keep a Nature Journal
SAMPLE NATURE JOURNAL PAGE

Start a nature journal with your family. It’s super simple. All you need is a notebook, something to write with (pencils, crayons, markers), your five senses, and your curiosity!

What are some things you might notice on your walks that you could include in a nature journal? What happens if you stop to watch a flower? Do you see any pollinators? Who are they? What are they doing? What do they look like?

More ideas, but really you are only limited by your imagination….

  • Leaf and tree rubbings
  • Sketches of flowers you’ve seen
  • Pressed flowers
  • Lists of birds, animals, or insects you’ve noticed
  • Bits of favorite nature poems
  • Pictures or descriptions of the same tree, flower, spot — done once or twice a week over several months.
  • Describe animal tracks you’ve seen in your yard or on a nature walk. Try to identify them.
  • Watercolor paintings of how the things you see in nature make you feel.

If you want more ideas as your family plans to TAKE A HIKE and go on a nature scavenger hunt, check out some of the Discovery Museum’s other family-friendly offerings.

Science Read Aloud: Give Bees A Chance
Join Katie Moss and Handley Regional Library for a read aloud of the nonfiction picture book Give Bees A Chance.
Let’s Dive Back Into the Hive with Dr. Stephanie
Let’s take a deeper dive into a honeybee hive with Dr. Stephanie and the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum. Learn about the different jobs bees do within the hive and how they use nectar and pollen to sustain the hive.
For more bee activities, including art, yoga, and engineering, visit the Discovery Museum’s What’s the Buzz family-friendly activities.