Why love bees? There are so many reasons to love bees! Do you like fruits such as oranges, apples and strawberries? How about vanilla ice cream? How about some toast or tea with honey? In order to have vanilla, honey and fruit you must have BEES! Many plants require an animal to pollinate them in order to produce their fruit, nut, seed, or bean. Pollinating animals include mammals (such as bats), birds (such as humming birds) and of course all kinds of insects. The most well known pollinating insects, and the ones that make yummy delicious honey, are bees.
I love bees because they help us have fruit and honey, but I also love bees because they are so interesting, and even, kind of cute.
Even though they may look similar, bees are different from wasps and hornets. Most bees make honey from the pollen in flowers whereas most wasps and hornets are carnivores and eat other insects. (There is a bee in South America that eats meat and makes meat honey!) Bees have barbed stingers and can only sting once before dying. Wasps and hornets have stingers designed to sting many times.
For the most part, bees and wasps are not typically aggressive towards humans unless they are bothered. If you see a bee, just leave it alone and it will leave you alone. If you get too close to a nest, bees can become aggressive, so be sure to stay far away from any area you suspect of having a bee or wasp nest.
Bees, especially native bees, could use our help. You can help bees by not using, or at least limiting, the use of pesticides. Also, allowing clover, dandelions, violets, and other plants to grow in your lawn is also super beneficial to bees.
Another great way to help bees is to plant flowers in your yard. Even if you just have a balcony, you can plant a pot of flowers to give bees some pollen and nectar so they can make honey to feed their baby bees.
Kids Nature Activity: Planting Zinnia Flower Seeds
- Zinnia flower seeds (you can buy these online)
- Paper cups
- Potting Soil
- Pen and/or pencil (for marking the cup and poking a hole in the bottom)
- Write on the cup what you are planting (ie Zinnia)
- Poke one or two small holes in the bottom of the cup for drainage
- Fill the cup almost up to the top with potting soil
- Tamp the soil down to pack it in
- Plant 1-3 seeds in the soil by pressing them down about 1/8″ into the soil and then covering and patting them. The reason to plant more than one seed is in case one of the seeds fails to germinate.
- Gently water the cup until the soil is wet.
- Place in a sunny area and water whenever the soil seems to be drying out (this will probably be daily when the plants start growing.) Allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering – if the soil stays wet all the time the seeds could rot.
- When the seedlings grow to a few inches and have at least 2-3 sets of leaves, thin the cup to one plant by using scissors to clip out the least healthy looking plants.
- When the plant is 2-3″ tall and has some good leaves on it, carefully peel away the cup from the soil and plant the zinnia in a pot or in the garden in a full sun location.
- ENJOY your flowers and listen to all the bees thanking you!
Bee kind to bees and bees will bee kind to you.