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BUILD WITH BEES: BEE NESTS

8-10 yrs old

Animals

Climate & Environment

Science

Focusing on different bees species’ nesting sites and practices, students explore how unique adaptations help bees survive in a variety of settings.

21
avatar Submitted By: Sarah Red-Laird

August 6, 2020

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Skills

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Project Based Learning

External References

Honey bees in a hive

This photo shows Beekeeper Sarah and a Langstroth hive, which is the hive most commonly used by beekeepers in the US.

Honey bees in a tree

This photo shows honeybees who have built their hive in the cavity of a dead tree.

Queen Bee Vs. Mouse

This 90-second video shows a queen bumble bee taking over an occupied mouse burrow.

Leafcutter Bees Flying in Slow Motion

This two-minute video shows leafcutter bees bringing leaves into their tunnel homes.

Watch This Bee Build Her Be-Jeweled Nest

This five-minute video shows a mason bee using mud to line her tunnel home.

Mason Bee Nesting in a Snail Shell

This one-minute video shows a bee using a snail shell as a tunnel home, covering it with thatch to better camouflage it.

Ground Bees

This 1:45 video shows ground-nesting bees digging in loose sandy soil.

Sweat Bees

This pair of photos shows cross-sections of ground-nesting bees’ homes.

Burrowing Bees

This 90-second video shows an aggregation of ground-nesting bees digging their homes in hard-packed soil.

Kids and Bees Minecraft World

Download and open in Minecraft: Education Edition.

Supporting Files

Bee Nests: Comparing Adaptations Worksheet


This worksheet guides students in comparing physical and behavioral adaptations shown in different bee species’ nesting habits.

Kids & Bees: Bee Nests Teacher's Guide


Learning Objectives

  • NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect; Structure and Function
  • NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Engaging in Argument from Evidence; Designing Solutions
  • NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: LS4.C: Adaptation; ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem
  • Students recognize the role of environmental pressures and disturbances in driving adaptation

Guiding Ideas

This project was developed with the American Beekeeping Federation’s Kids and Bees program. Explore three new worlds, created by Lifeboat, and use new lessons to introduce students to bees' dynamic and fascinating roles in their own hives and in broader ecosystems. “Bee Nests” is Lesson 3/3 for the Beetopia World.

Introductory questions

  • What is an adaptation?
  • What can bee nests tell us about adaptations?

 

Student Activities

Introduction (whole class) 15-30 minutes

Let the class know that in this lesson, they’ll be exploring lots of different kinds of bee homes to learn about adaptations in different bee species. Remind the class that an adaptation is something that helps an organism survive; adaptations can be behavioral (something that an animal does) or structural/physical (a specialized body part that an animal has). Adaptations develop very slowly, as certain individuals survive and reproduce, while others die, eventually allowing a species to become better and better suited to survival in a particular environment. Remind students that the first bee existed 120 million years ago, and that today there are more than 20,000 species of bees worldwide, each with its own special adaptations!

Describe the three kinds of bee nesting habits: cavity, tunnel, and ground. Hand out one copy of the “Bee Nests: Comparing Adaptations” worksheet to each student. Explain that you are going to show examples of each of these kinds of nests, and ask students to make close observations and notes about what they see, filling in one line of the chart for each example. Be sure to number the examples and have students write the number at the beginning of each row so they can compare their observations. Pause between each example to give students time to fill in their answers. To help students answer the second question (“What kinds of environmental conditions might encourage the bees to build their nests this way?”), pose questions such as: “If there were no trees in an environment, where would a bee choose to make her nest?” and “If an environment was extremely hot, where would a bee want to live?”

After each example, invite students to compare their answers in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class. Ask students to defend their reasoning about whether the adaptation is an example of a physical or behavioral adaptation.

Show at least one example from each of the three nesting types. If showing only one example from each type, the starred ones are the recommended choices.

Cavity Nesting Bees

Tunnel Nesting Bees

Ground Nesting Bees

Minecraft Beetopia (explore individually, collaborate to build) 25-40 minutes

Direct students to load the Kids and Bees Minecraft world and go to the Beetopia area. If you haven’t completed Lesson 2: Life Cycle of a Colony, tell students to talk to the NPC Bee Girl, who will introduce Beekeeper Sarah. Sarah will teach the students about what a bee colony needs to survive, and about the challenges bees face.

 

Please download the teacher's guide for the complete lesson. 

Total time - 80-130 minutes

 

 

Performance Expectations

This lesson will enable students to:

  • List and describe the three types of bee nests
  • Differentiate between physical and behavioral adaptations
  • Describe how disturbances can help and hurt bee nests

 

Skills

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Project Based Learning

External References

Honey bees in a hive

This photo shows Beekeeper Sarah and a Langstroth hive, which is the hive most commonly used by beekeepers in the US.

Honey bees in a tree

This photo shows honeybees who have built their hive in the cavity of a dead tree.

Queen Bee Vs. Mouse

This 90-second video shows a queen bumble bee taking over an occupied mouse burrow.

Leafcutter Bees Flying in Slow Motion

This two-minute video shows leafcutter bees bringing leaves into their tunnel homes.

Watch This Bee Build Her Be-Jeweled Nest

This five-minute video shows a mason bee using mud to line her tunnel home.

Mason Bee Nesting in a Snail Shell

This one-minute video shows a bee using a snail shell as a tunnel home, covering it with thatch to better camouflage it.

Ground Bees

This 1:45 video shows ground-nesting bees digging in loose sandy soil.

Sweat Bees

This pair of photos shows cross-sections of ground-nesting bees’ homes.

Burrowing Bees

This 90-second video shows an aggregation of ground-nesting bees digging their homes in hard-packed soil.

Kids and Bees Minecraft World

Download and open in Minecraft: Education Edition.

Supporting Files

Bee Nests: Comparing Adaptations Worksheet


This worksheet guides students in comparing physical and behavioral adaptations shown in different bee species’ nesting habits.

Kids & Bees: Bee Nests Teacher's Guide