The wonderful world of bees

30 November 2023

St Andrew's College Junnior Department students dressed in full PPE with bees and hives in a hive enclosure.

Regulus // Issue 3 // November 2023

Bee facts, songs, rhymes, and even PowerPoint presentations were shared excitedly by Year 1–3 students at a special assembly in the Junior Department in mid-September, following a highly engaging bee inquiry.

The inquiry, which took place throughout Term 3, was supported by apiarist and teacher, Kathryn Jer, of Clever Little Bees, who visited the Junior Department for several personalised sessions with the different year groups. “On her first visit, Kathryn brought a live observational hive for the children to see, which really ignited the inquiry. During this session we discovered what the children already knew about bees and what they would like to know. They asked some really great questions, which fuelled the direction the inquiry eventually took,” says Head of Junior Syndicate, Heather Orman.

Key learnings during the inquiry included the life cycle of a bee, labelling the parts of a bee, identifying the three different castes of honeybees, different types of bees including native bees, pollination, describing how bees make honey, and discussing the different roles bees play.

There were lots of practical opportunities for the children during the inquiry. They enjoyed trying on bee suits, tasting different types of pollen and honey, learning about the different parts of a beehive, and examining some of the other equipment used by beekeepers.

Year 3 teachers, Marlene Van der Bent and Isaac Leota, took their classes to the Climate Action Campus to conclude the bee inquiry where small groups of children at a time were kitted out in full PPE to see the bees and hives up close in the hive enclosure, and learn more from Kathryn Jer. “It was a special experience that the students, parent helpers, and teachers will never forget,” says Marlene.

Year 3 student, Iaera Abrahamson, said she was a bit nervous when she first went into the bee enclosure but soon found it fun. “The bees landed all over me, but I felt well protected in my bee suit.”

Year 1 teacher, Anna Wylie, says learning about the critical role of bees has changed the children’s viewpoint of them. “The children may have seen bees as scary things that sting before, but now they understand the bees’ bigger purpose, they are more likely to say, ‘thank you bee’.”

Head of Junior Department, Heather Orman, says the whole-Department focus has been one of the best things about the inquiry. “We’ve had a shared focus as a teaching group, resulting in so many learning conversations. It’s been great for everybody and there has been a nice buzz in the department.”

Now the children understand how critical bees are for people and the planet, the final stage of the inquiry was to consider how we can help the bees, says Heather. “It was important for us to come away with some actions to ensure we are looking after bees into the future.”

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