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3501 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC, 20002
United States


Washington Youth Garden

April Martin


In the world of honeybees, winter comes early. For drone bees, who have no stinger and have done nothing all summer but beg for food from their worker bee sisters, this means getting the boot from the family hive. A colorful skit brought this scene to life for our Garden Science classes during their lesson on bees and pollination. Washington Youth Garden’s beekeeping friend Toni Burnham captivated her third and fourth grade audiences, who shot their hands in the air with question after question about these critically important garden pollinators.

Ms. Toni showed them how the queen bee sashays with her sideways pointing legs and how the other members of the hive smell her (pheremones) with their antenna and spread that smell throughout the hive to communicate.

One hand shot up towards the end of a class at Thurgood Marshall Elementary to ask how a bee could tell if a flower had already been pollinated and we all learned about bees’ ultraviolet vision– and how pollinated flowers change their patterning in a way that only bees (not humans) can see!

Last week we followed up on our pollination lesson to learn about what makes an insect an insect (6 legs, 3 body parts, wings, antenna and an exoskeleton) and some other reasons insects are so important. Who knew that without insects we wouldn’t have ice cream? One of our fourth graders at EW Stokes figured that one out. (Bees pollinate clover, food for cows so they can produce milk.) Turns out insects have an important role to play in the food chain– even ours!

Learn more about ultraviolet bee vision with the first two minutes of this video: