Friday, April 12, 2013

Honey Bees and Sweet Chicks

I think lately I've lost sight of WHY we homeschool.   I'm thankful for a fellow homeschool mom's reminder yesterday.  We've all been missing out on some of the biggest benefits of homeschooling.  I'm thankful that today we were able to have an amazing day together...learning, making memories, and marveling at one of God's amazing creations.  Yesterday we installed our bees, so, today we just decided to study them.  There is way more to learn than I realized so we will probably be studying honey bees for a couple of weeks...or as long as the kids are showing interest.   We talked all about the different kinds of honey bees.   We learned all about their anatomy.  Did you know that bees suck the honey up and store it inside their bodies in a honey sac and then go back and spit it out into a cell of the comb?  Yum!  Well, we learned tons of cool facts and then I told them we were just going to observe our bees.   They couldn't get down the hill fast enough!

This is how they were waiting for me...about 2 feet directly in front of the hive.  I was really impressed because I few years ago we were attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets.  Ethan and Luke were stung multiple times, they were up their was traumatic.  For a long time Luke was terrified of anything flying around him.   He was so proud to be able to say he wasn't afraid today.  I was just praying he wouldn't get stung!  Ethan is very interested in beekeeping.  He just walks right into the swarm without any fear. 

So we sat and watched the bees on the flowers for a long time.   You could actually see their proboscis drinking nectar and the pollen baskets on their hind legs full of pollen.   Then we watched them fly into the hive to deposit their pollen and nectar.  We took out some frames to check on our queens.  You could see some of the cells were already full of orange stuff!   This is probably "bee bread".   This is what the bees feed the larvae until they are in their cocoons. ***I didn't even know that bees went through metamorphosis!***

The the big orange lumps on her legs???  Those are her pollen baskets full of pollen. 

The kids were holding them on sticks and when they landed on them they didn't flinch...just held still and watched them until they flew away.

You can watch the bees fly out of the hive carrying dead bees!   They just drop them over the edge.  We collected a couple of the discarded bees and took them instead to observe them under the microscope.   It was amazing!   We were able to see all of the tiny lenses on their compound eyes, the details of the wings, tiny hairs covering their bodies, the barbed stinger, and much more. 

We are all so excited about our bees!  I never expected it to be as fun as it is.  I didn't think I'd get near the hives, but, today Chad took a frame out covered with bees and I held it for him with absolutely no gear on...not even gloves!   Bees are so docile and are amazing little creatures.   I definitely have a newfound respect for them. 

Later we just enjoyed the beautiful weather and our chicks.  They are getting so big!  

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