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Bee Watcher: What's Buzzing?

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Author: Tricia Edgar
Topics: Third Grade, Zoology

If you didn't have to go to school, what time would you wake up in the morning? Would you sleep in until lunchtime or get up at the crack of dawn? Bees don't have to go to school, but something -- besides a parent or an alarm clock -- makes them want to get up and start buzzing about. What do you think that is?

In this project, you'll get to be a bee watcher. You'll take a look at three types of bees, discovering for yourself what makes bees wake up and start their day. Warning, though, you'll definitely have to set your alarm clock for this experiment.

Problem:

When do different types of bees wake up in the morning?

Materials:

  • Picture of a bumblebee
  • Picture of a mason bee
  • Picture of a honey bee
  • Glue stick
  • Magnifying glass
  • Thermometer
  • Notebook
  • Pencil
  • Lavender plant
  • Anise hyssop plant
  • Alarm clock
  • Watch
  • Adult

Procedure:

  1. Pick cool, brisk mornings for your experiment. You don't want lots of rain or fog -- weather like that will make it harder to spot the bees. Check your local weather forecast or ask an adult to help you figure out the best morning.
  2. The night before you decide to do your experiment, glue your three bee pictures to the top of one of your notebook pages. Make sure you know which bee is which. It isn't enough just to know what the bees look like -- you need to know their names too!
  3. Take a closer look at the bees in each of your three pictures. Can you remember ever seeing any of these bees before? What do you think motivates a bee to wake up? What motivates you to wake up? Do you think any of your motivations could be similar to what motivates a bee? Write your thoughts in your notebook.
  4. Think about the question of this experiment: when do different types of bees wake up in the morning? Looking at the pictures and your notes, write down your guess, or hypothesis, in your notebook.
  5. Place your lavender and anise hyssop plant outside in your backyard.
  6. Set your alarm for an early hour. Ask an adult to help you pick a time that is about five or ten minutes before the sun rises.
  7. In the morning, take your notebook, pencil, watch, thermometer and magnifying glass outside.
  8. Make your bee watching station a few feet away from the lavender and the anise hyssop plant.
  9. Now you're ready to be a bee watcher. The thing about bee watching is that it is not too difficult. You don't even need to trek very far, and you don't need to put on a special hat unless you want to. Just sit and watch for at least 20 minutes.
  10. If you see a bee, use your notes to figure out what type of bee it is. Write this down in your notebook along with the time and temperature.
  11. After you've been bee watching for 20 minutes, pack up your equipment
  12. Return to your station later in the afternoon. Sit and watch for another 20 minutes, recording what you find in your notebook.
  13. Plant your flowers a day or two before you go bee watching. This gives the bees a chance to know that they are there.
  14. You'll want to repeat this process of morning and afternoon watching at least six more times. Some days you will see more bees, and other days there will be fewer bees. Seven days of bee watching will help you get a good sampling.
  15. When you're all finished, take a look at your notes. What conclusions can you make?
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