About Nectar, Honey, and Pollen
In this lesson, students follow the honey bee on its quest for nectar and pollen! The lesson explains how honey is made, and how plants and bees have a symbiotic relationship. Students study the “Get the Buzz on Honey Bees” classroom map to identify states and borders.
Science Objectives: Students learn what nectar, honey, and pollen are; where they come from; and how bees and flowers share a mutually beneficial relationship
Geography Objective: Students become familiar with a U.S. map and understand basic map elements, such as states and borders, as they learn how different crops are produced with the help of honey bee pollination
Student Reproducible: Lesson Activity 1, Honey Bee Matching (PDF)
Student Glossary (PDF)
Bonus Reproducible 1: Flower Power (PDF)
SET UP AND PREPARE
Time Required: One 40-minute class
- Ask students: Have you ever seen a honey bee? Where? (Sitting on plants and flowers.) Then ask them: What do you think they’re doing? Explain that worker bees have a long tube (called a proboscis) that they use to gather their food (called nectar), the sweet fluid produced by flowers. Worker bees store it in a part of their body called the honey sac.
- Tell students that in addition to nectar, bees collect pollen. Pollen is the yellow-green powder-like substance that comes from flowers. Bees returning to the hive often carry balls of pollen which stick to the stiff hairs on their legs (a bee body part called pollen baskets). Honey bees mix pollen with nectar to form beebread, a protein used to feed larvae (immature bees).
- Explain to students that after they collect nectar, honey bees store their food: The house bees mix the nectar with enzymes and deposit it into the honeycomb. Then they evaporate moisture from the nectar enzyme mixture by fanning the honeycomb cells with their wings. You now have honey! The bees then cap the honey cells with beeswax.
- Explain to students that bees and flowers have a relationship where both animal and plant benefit. In nature, this is called a symbiotic relationship. Ask students: Bees get nectar from flowers, but the flower gets something in return. Do you know what the flower gets? Explain that flowers trade sweet nectar and protein-rich pollen in return for pollination and reproduction of the plant species. Bees track pollen from flower to flower, which allows flowers to reproduce and grow.
- Make copies and distribute Lesson Activity 1. Provide the class with copies of the Student Glossary, for reference.