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Honey Bee Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Jon Hadley

Mary Jon has taught in an elementary school for nine years, and am currently working on my doctorate in curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Honey bees do more than just make honey for us to enjoy on our biscuits. They have a huge responsibility for pollinating the plants that we need to survive. Without pollinating insects, the fruits and vegetables you love to eat would not grow.

Honey Bees Are Hard Workers

This adult honey bee is collecting pollen and nectar. But it doesn't have to pick it up with its hands and feet: all it has to do is brush into the pollen, and the pollen sticks to its hairy legs and body. As it flits from flower to flower, the bee moves the pollen into pollen sacks on its back legs. This way the honey bee can carry the pollen back to the hive, like we might carry books in a backpack to school.

Honey bee gathering nectar and pollen
Honey bee on a yellow flower

Bees use the pollen and nectar to make food for all the honey bees in the hive. The bees turn nectar into honey by chewing up the nectar until it breaks down the sugars. The bees then put it into the honeycombs, which are wax cells, and fan it with their wings until it loses enough liquid to become syrup. Then they put a wax cap on each cell so they can store the food for later use.

Types of Honey Bees

There are only three types of honey bees in each hive. The queen bee lays all of the eggs, which could be around 1,000 each day. There are usually a few hundred drones, which are the only male bees in the hive. Their only job is to fertilize the queen's eggs. The main bee that does all of the work is called a worker bee. All worker bees are females that are unable to lay eggs - that job belongs only to the queen. There are around 50,000 or more worker bees in a normal hive. They collect pollen, make food and care for the other bees. All of the bees are important to the survival of the hive.

Worker bee covered in pollen
Honey bee covered with pollen

Honey Bee Life Cycle

Honey bees go through complete metamorphosis, which is like a body transformation, with a bit of a twist. Unlike butterflies that lay their eggs and leave them to form alone, honey bees take very good care of their young through the entire cycle:

  1. First, the queen bee lays an egg in each prepared wax cell.
  2. Then, the worker bees take very good care of the egg until it becomes a larva (grub).
  3. During the larva stage, the worker bees feed the larva a mixture of honey and pollen, until it is ready for the pupa stage.
  4. In the pupa stage, the larva will create a cocoon around itself, still inside of the wax cell, and the worker bees will put a cap on the cell for protection.
  5. When the new bee eats its way out of the cell, it will begin its new job in the hive.

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