Bee my honeyWhenever a bee flies around, someone somewhere usually screeches and runs away. But if it’s a honeybee, there’s really no reason to get uptight.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Whenever a bee flies around, someone somewhere usually screeches and runs away. But if it’s a honeybee, there’s really no reason to get uptight.
“Honey bees are usually very friendly,” explains Erin Rupp, assistant curator of education from the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History.
So friendly, in fact, that honeybees go out of their way to share their kind spirits with us in one of the sweetest ways possible — their production of honey.
And if you ask any second grader at Riverview Elementary School, they’ll be able to fill you in on pretty much everything that goes into that honey-making process.
Last week, the Bell Museum’s traveling honeybee display came to RES. The display was interactive. Students could watch, so to speak, the making of honey from beginning to end.
It started with Rupp in a beekeeper’s suit, showing the students a glass-covered honeycomb, where honeybees swarmed,filling each little comb. Students got a closer look at those honeycombs at the next station, where Rupp’s co-worker, Zach Huber helped students use a hot knife to strip the waxy honey from the honeycombs.
The wax was then taken to a honey extractor, where it was melted down, then poured through a sieve so the sweet, gooey goodness could be separated from the wax. Finally, the students took turns pouring the fresh honey into small jars to take home.
“The whole point was to introduce them to how bees make honey from beginning to end,” said RES teacher Cinda Current.
But there was more to it. In preparation for the visit, teachers talked about the process with their students in science classes. The kids learned the vocabulary, they learned the system. They even learned about pollination and how bees benefit the environment.
By the time the Bell Museum folks came to the school, the kids had a pretty good idea of what was going on. Or, at least, they thought they did.
“It’s one thing to read about it in a book, but it’s another thing to actually see it,” Current said.
“We came in to reinforce what those students learned with all of our equipment,” Rupp said.
And the fun part — at least to those who are teaching — is that the kids are having fun while they’re learning.
“It’s really an easy way to get kids to do the scientific method without them thinking about doing it,” Rupp said. “They’re learning without realizing they’re learning. Science is a process that they’re probably already doing. Insects make it very obvious and engaging.”
After it was over, Current had her students write thank yous to Rupp and Huber. She asked the students to say what their favorite part of the day was, what sorts of things they liked, and what they learned.
Funny thing, though — as the kids started to write those thank yous, they also started coming up with more questions for Huber and Rupp. That, in itself, turned out to be a little lesson for the students.
“The message kind of was, with science, we learn something, but you always have another question,” Current said.
The honeybee exhibit is part of the Bell Museum’s Visiting Invertebrates program, which has been around for about a decade.
Bell Museum staff also brought several types of cockroaches to RES when they came to town. That’s part of an on-going science curriculum that begins in the upcoming weeks and will continue through the school year.