Dance Like A Honey Bee With 4-H

This post is a partnership between our Houseful and 4-H showcasing the importance of honey bees. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s springtime, and in our community led garden, plants that we started in February are being transplanted into their homes for the season, and we’re excitedly anticipating them getting heavy with a bounty for us to feast on. Yes, I tend to wax poetic when it comes to talking about vegetables around these parts. Mostly because we grow most of our own during the season of harvest and we know that we couldn’t do it without the help of some tiny individuals.

In this instance, I’m not talking about the bottom three of the Houseful, but honey bees! The pollinators that also provide some of the sweetest payoffs in the realm of food production. Not only do honey bees help provide food for our houseful and yours, but they also provide food for their colonies and a sweetener that can range from almost colorless to dark amber for the world to enjoy.

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I tried my hand at being a beekeeper a couple of years back, and I learned quite a few things about our flying friends. Now I’m partnering with 4-H to help children all over learn why honey bees and their migratory cousins are so important for our survival.

4-H wants EVERYONE to learn more about the function of honey bees in the world of growing food and feeding the world. It’s not hyperbole to say that without honey bees, we’d be hungry. Approximately one in every three bites of food we eat is a direct result of bees and other pollinators at work.

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Look at all of that pollen!

With the 4-H Honey Bee Challenge Kit that is available in the Shop 4-H store, your children and others will learn that

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  • Honey bees and other pollinators are essential contributors to growing food and feeding the world.
  • Honey bees utilize a combination of agricultural habitats to maintain healthy hives.
  • Preserving and maintaining the natural foraging habitats of honey bees is important.
  • Commercial beekeepers transport honey bees all across the country to boost crop yield since there isn’t enough managed honey bees or native pollinators to maximize agricultural production.
  • Youth can contribute to honey bee health in their own communities (like We Sow We Grow gardens!)

The 4-H Honey Bee Challenge is designed to be led by a teen facilitator, but since our resident teen Nathaniel is away in college, mom had to act like a teen and lead the discussion! By the time we were finished with the unit, my children understood: the reason we call honey bees hired workers in our community garden; the foraging behavior of those bees – which include flower fidelity (HUBBA HUBBA) – visiting only one flowering species during each foraging trip, even when other flowers are available; and the waggle dance!

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They were also able to practice problem-solving and critical thinking. Not only did we learn more about the help that our garden gets when we’re not in it, but we completed a homeschool unit! The icing on the cake was identifying more ways to help the bees while addressing fostering a sense of accomplishment!

With the Honey Bee Challenge Kit, children will learn to demonstrate the waggle dance – a dance that a honey bee uses to let other bees know exactly where good food source flowers are located. They will also build model honey bees from supplies provided in the kit. You will only need to add supplies that are most often found in your home pantry. They will build foraging routes from those supplies, collecting pollen (glitter) along the way.

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The houseful of littles enjoyed trying their hand at building their own bee bots and creating foraging routes for them to collect their pollen. As with anything involving children, it was best to give instructions and then let them work it out with little involvement from me. Watching their little hands and brains go to work figuring out just how to do everything was pretty amazing. They also do a mean waggle dance!

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So tell me, are your children members of their local 4-H and if so, have they participated in this unit? If not, you can order your own Honey Bee kit from Shop4-H.org. If you do complete the honey bee challenge, make sure to tag me in the photos while also using #4HPollinator! And get those waggle dances on video!

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