When Mary Ellen gets tired of reading indoors, her grandfather knows that a trip to the Bee Tree is just the thing to rejuvenate her.
An adventure and a merry chase lead to a discovery about reading when Mary Ellen learns that good things take effort. -FIAR Manual
This has, by far, been one of our favorite “rows”/unit studies to date! We did most of our activities alongside some friends, and because there are so many fun/interesting topics to explore when it comes to bees, we MAY have gotten a little carried away. 😉
We discussed the lesson of the story, which is that good things take effort…whether that means chasing a bee for miles to get to the delicious fresh honey, or taking the time to read through a good book in order to get to the juicy stuff at the end.
We put our story disk over the state of Michigan, because this is where the little girl and her grandfather live, and it’s also the setting for the bee chase.
Science: We learned ALL about bees…and I mean ALL…I don’t want to hear about bees again for a long time!
For starters, we met up with our friends at a nearby farmer’s market because we heard they had live bees (it was surprisingly difficult to get a tour of a more sophisticated apiary, so we made due with what we had).
They had a small little area in the back of their store where they did, indeed, keep live bees and the nice gentleman who worked there gave us a brief little presentation about them, while our small children clamored all around and dug into the nearby bins of candy.
(There’s a little tube leading from that bee hive to the outside of the building. The bees go freely in and out of the hive via the tube.)
After that was over, we headed back to my house to watch The Bee Movie…
We also watched the Reading Rainbow episode entitled Life Cycle of the Honeybee…
And we tasted some raw honeycomb that we purchased from the farmer’s market…
This made me gag a little…I’m not a big fan of straight honey, to tell you the truth. Once the honey dissolved, the comb just tasted like chewing on wax. Some of us swallowed it and some of us spit it out.
Honey Bottling Facility:
The following week, we all met up at a honey bottling facility for a tour that Miss Becky had arranged for us. This tour turned out to be pretty awesome!
We met with the owner in the lobby and he showed us a discarded honeycomb tray that still had some dead bee larvae in it.
(A small residential spinning machine that separates the honey from the comb.)
He showed us pictures of the different types of bees (worker, queen, etc…)
Then we went on a tour of the facility.
(The unused honeycomb trays.)
The assembly-line where they fill the little bears…
The kids all thought this was so cool. Conner, especially, with his little engineering mind, was in heaven!
He gave each of the kids their own bottle of honey, fresh off the line!
The box unfolding machine…
Then we went into another large area where they keep the huge drums and barrels of honey…
(Our friends and fellow homeschoolers…Miss Becky and her three little rugrats- Grace, Luke, and Chloe)
And finally, he took us back to the front area and showed us how to roll simple candles out of wax sheets…
He sent us home with some yummy honey-flavored candies and bubble wrap to entertain the kids on the drive! A Great company run by a great family. 🙂
Later that same week, we went over to Miss Becky’s house for some more bee/honey-themed fun.
First we made homemade lip-balm out of beeswax, coconut oil, honey, and shea butter…
(ingredients all melted together)
We filled and decorated our lip balm tubes with bee stickers and each child got to keep one.
Then we went outside where Miss Becky had an activity planned to demonstrate to the kids how the bees pollinate the flowers. She set up stations with paper bags filled with cheetos and a piece of paper that represented a flower. They had to move from station to station eating cheetos and then they rubbed the cheese from their hands onto the paper. This showed them how pollen sticks to the bees and is passed from one flower to another. 🙂
Then we ate the remaining cheetos with our lunch, which was peanut butter and honey sandwiches, of course!
Becky also made a fruit salad with a honey dressing of some sort (which was yummy) and then she had some delicious copy-cat fried honey ice cream for dessert.
And because we hadn’t done nearly enough activities that revolved around food, we also had a little pollen tasting party (I purchased the raw pollen from the honey bottling facility)…
It’s supposed to help with allergies so I’ve been adding it to our smoothies occasionally to help some of my seasonal allergy sufferers.
It really just tastes like honey…but dry!
Then to wash off all of the sticky honey food, we threw their butts in the pool! They didn’t complain, of course…except that the water was still a tad chilly at this point. 😉
Bee Anatomy Under the Microscope:
We just happened to find a bee in our house one day at the end of this study (which isn’t a normal occurrence), so daddy shocked the bee (*ahem) so that we could observe it under our microscope. This was SO cool.
At first the boys had a hard time figuring out how to look in the microscope with one eye, so daddy helped them out a little.
And this is what we saw (captured with my camera phone)…
(The bee’s body, covered in hair and pollen.)
(A close-up of the wing.)
(And the bee’s rear-end with a stinger still attached…it’s the curvy thing underneath, not the sharp black line running into the center of the picture.)
Great times with great friends and great memories!
Oh, and we also had Honeycomb cereal for breakfast one morning…