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“Mummy, how do bees make honey?”
Ahh the morning ponderings of a five-year-old over a piece of honey toast. For the last couple of weeks we have been learning about honeybees. Jack and Sarah’s questions have steered us towards flowers, nectar, honeycomb and bee behaviour. And so just like that another wonderful project has begun.
Did you know that bees make honey from nectar by stirring it with their tongues and fanning it with their wings to thicken it? And did you know that they create the honey because in its thicker state, it lasts longer than nectar, allowing the colony to last through the winter? Fascinating! And did you know that bees communicate with each other through a series of movements? They dance to each other. Amazing.
All these things I never knew about honeybees. What wonderful creatures they are.
Over the weekend we took a trip to the farmers markets to talk to the local honey farmers. I always find local farmers so willing of their time for small children.
Jack asked wonderful questions about beeswax and how they collect honey, he regaled the farmer with what he knew of nectar and the farmer let Jack try all the different flavours of honey. She even offered us a visit to see the hives when the weather warmed up in Spring.
We brought some honeycomb home and Jack and Sarah rather excitedly waited until would could explore it further.
So today Jack and Sarah learnt how to extract honey from honeycomb by hand.
As the honey oozed and dripped all over their fingers, they broke the honey comb into a glass bowl. With lots of excitement from the popping sounds, they mashed the honeycomb together until it was thick and gooey.
Later they spooned the honey/wax mixture into a piece of cheesecloth and Jack tied a rubber band around the top. Jack had the idea to suspend it from two wooden spoons over another glass bowl. It wasn’t long before the honey started to drip through.
To say Jack and Sarah were excited to see the honey drip from the cheesecloth is a slight understatement. They were SUPER excited! Jack predicted how much honey there will be by morning. I am excited to see too. He has already decided he’s having honey toast for breakfast and then maybe make some honey joys if there is enough honey left over. Bless his optimistic heart.
I am looking forward to working with the leftover beeswax and Jack has asked to make a beehive so we will definitely be exploring that further.
Here’s a few other books and things Jack and Sarah have been using whilst learning about honeybees:
- The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive episode
- The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive (book)
- The Life and Times of the Honeybee (book)
- Learning About Honeybees (YouTube playlist)
- Life Cycle of a Honey Bee (figurines)