This Week From Bedtime Math: Boogie Like a Bee

Bees have a fun way of sending messages to each other they do this by dancing. And since they have lots to buzz about, that can add up to hours of fun.
By Laura Overdeck
Jun 18, 2013



Jun 18, 2013


What is Bedtime Math? A message from Laura:  Bedtime Math is a pretty simple idea: We all know we should read to our kids at night, but what about math?   My husband and I have done fun, mischief-loaded math problems with our kids at night for years, and when at age 2 our third child started hollering for his own math problem, we realized we were onto something:  In a world where so many people say "Ewww, math!" we had created a household culture where kids don't just tolerate math, they actually seek it out.   Now we email parents a fun, lively math problem every day to do with their kids – and every week, we'll be posting a new problem right here on Scholastic Parents!


Wherever there are flowers growing, you're likely to find bees. Bees collect pollen from those blooming flowers to make honey. But how do they tell each other where to find faraway fresh flowers? Well, they can’t talk, so they dance. When a bee finds a field of flowers, she rushes back to the hive and gives directions to the other bees by doing the "waggle dance." The bee runs around in a figure 8, and the angle of that 8 shows the other bees where the flowers are. Dancing straight up and down the side of the hive means the flowers are in the direction of the sun; if the bee tilts 15 degrees to the left, that tells the other bees to fly out of the hive 15 degrees to the left of the sun. The length of time of the dance shows how far to fly, too. Works just as well as GPS — though it’s hard to imagine dancing to tell someone where the grocery store is.

Now that you know a little more about bees, get your kids “buzzing" with these math challenges:


Wee ones: If a bee goes out to find flowers and collects pollen from 4 roses, 3 tulips, and a daisy, how many total flowers did she visit?

Little kids: Bees work way hard to make honey: To make 1 pound of honey, bees have to collect pollen from over 2 million flowers! How many flowers do they need to visit to make 6 pounds of honey?  Bonus: A bee visits between 50 and 100 flowers every time it leaves the hive. If one bee always visits 50 flowers per trip, after 2 trips how many flowers has she visited?

Big kids: That bee’s day isn’t done yet. Over the course of a full day, a bee visits about 2,000 flowers. If that one bee visits 50 flowers on every trip, how many trips does she need to make to visit 2,000 flowers?  Bonus: How many bees would have to work together to make the 1 pound of honey in that one day? (Reminder: that pound requires 2 million flowers.)



Wee ones: 8 flowers.

Little kids: 12 million flowers.  Bonus: 100 flowers.

Big kids: 40 trips.  Bonus: 1,000 bees.


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