To Love Bees And Nature
Inspiring children to love bees and nature, is not only life
enriching for the child, it is a great way to help ensure the environment will
be protected for future generations.
Hence, one of my favourite quotes of all time has to be:
"Teaching a child not
to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the
in agreement with the words of film director and producer, Louie Schwartzberg:
and seduction I believe, is nature's tool for survival because we will protect
what we fall in love with".
the passion I have for bees, started when I was a young child. So how
can we help children be inspired? All children are different, but my
from my own experiences some of which I include below.
1. Get outdoors and observe nature!
- Create a bee and pollinator garden together. For advice about which plants to grow see this list of bee plants. It's a brilliant opportunity to make a direct link between the foods we eat and the creatures (especially the bees and other pollinators) which help to put food on our plate.
- Go for walks - either guided bee walks, or simple nature walks.
Nothing beats getting out into the garden or
walk in the countryside or in the park.
have fond memories of walking down country lanes with my father. We
would chat about all kinds of topics (that
are important to five year olds!), not only wildlife, but every now and
we would stop and look at things – a bird nest in a hedgerow or a hairy
caterpillar on a flower stem. A snail may need to be rescued from the danger
being squashed underfoot, or a beetle could be admired for its
iridescence. A ladybird (or ladybug) could have its spots counted,
and birds could be identified by their songs.
Later on, I was sufficiently motivated to observe nature by myself. I
would sit for hours watching a queen
bumblebee entering and exiting the new nest she was establishing in an
abandoned rodent hole beneath our privet hedge.
nature into the home
- Create a study table or shelf, and display interesting items collected on walks or in the garden: an empty snail shell, a bird feather, pine cones, a piece of quartz or unusual stone. These provide great talking points, and it can be fun to spend time identifying the items gathered.
- Nature can of course be admired from library picture books, and by searching for
beautiful images on the internet, or having posters in the bedroom.
- Educational or fun games in the home with a
nature and wildlife element bring nature into play in a more structured way. You'll find a number of printable activity pages here.
not try creative activities such as painting, colouring and crafts: create a
hanging bee mobile, take or print out pictures of bees to make a bee calendar,
matching card game or jigsaw puzzle, or make handmade birthday cards on a
bee-theme. You'll find some printable bee-themed bookmarks to cut out and keep here.
3. Identify and learn about bees and
wildlife, and the role they play
- There are plenty of free resources to print out from the internet. This website has links to free bee I.D.
charts, but second hand pocket books can be picked up quite cheaply – and there’s
always the library.
- That nature is
beautiful and worthy of being cherished in its own right is important for
children to learn, I think. But it’s
also good to teach children the value to humanity – in the case of bees, how
they pollinate our food crops and flowers.
- Take time to reflect with your child on all the things you have eaten in
a day that needed help from our bees and other pollinators. Apple pie, strawberry ice cream, blueberry
muffins, beans, tomato ketchup…..or how about honey (it takes about 556
foraging honey bees visiting 2 million flowers, just to make a pound of honey! - see more honey bee facts).
Fishing in a pond, autumn leaves gathered for leaf rubbings, teasel heads made
into prickly hedgehogs, starting my own ‘nature diary’, collecting feathers and
shells, painting pebbles – all things I did as a child.
But I also remember the fun of growing and
measuring the height of sunflowers, counting the number of beans produced by a
plant tended by me, and learning fun facts about wildlife. But here are some specific ideas for bee-related
activities for kids:
- as stated above, one of the best ways to inspire children to love bees is by creating a bee garden at home or in the community. It will be fun to plan and create the garden, then watch for the different bees visiting the flowers as the garden grows;
- make a
bee house for solitary bees (experience shows this is more likely to be
successful in attracting bees than a bumblebee house) – here are some
instructions (copy & paste the following link into a new window):
- if your
child belongs to a nature group, arrange a visit from a beekeeper – you may
even get to sample their honey!
some experiments – for example, record and identify which bees are visiting
which flowers and food crops;
- print out
and use these puzzles and activity sheets;
make use of free bee clip art for projects and
- decorate cup cakes to look like bees.
use of the vast free resources out there!
Here are some useful information
leaflets and sheets for use with children. Because links can sometimes be
broken (which the search engines do not like), I have chosen not to link
directly to the following pages. Please
copy and paste the links into a new window on your computer.
for kids about honey bees:
with bees' activity:
are many more free resources out there. For example, for colouring pages,
simply google ‘bee colouring pages’ – there are many to choose from to suit
So come on folks, whether you are a teacher, parent or carer, inspiring children to love bees isn't that difficult and doesn't have to cost a fortune. Bees are amazing, and afterall the kids will benefit, and their children too! Don't we want them to experience the sight of wildflower meadows, colourful gardens and tasty fruits and vegetables? I'm sure we do!
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