We’ve been enjoying the summer sunshine and marvelling at how many bees and butterflies have been visiting our Buddleia Bush. Today however we found a big bumble bee walking around very slowly on our decking. We watched it for a while and it really did seem to be struggling.
When I was a little girl my mum used to revive exhausted bumble bees with a weak honey and water solution. Nowadays I believe it’s not advisable to offer bees honey due to the risk of spreading disease or illness, so a sugar solution is better. We mixed together a tiny sweet drink for the bee and dripped a couple of drops in front of it into a dip in the decking.
It was fantastic to see the bee move straight towards it and extend its long tongue for a drink. After a few minutes it seemed so much perkier and it wasn’t long after that it flew away. Hooray!
Whilst it was feeding we took a few stills and some video footage of it through the USB microscope. It was such a fantastic sight.
It’s quite amazing how long the tongue (proboscis) actually was. We guessed at least 1.5cm! We did a bit of research and this is what the children found out about it:
- The proboscis is protected by a hard sheath made by the palp and maxillae.
- It is soft and stretchy and has a feathery end (In this photograph you can see the soft feathery end of the tongue curling on the wood.)
- Bees drink nectar from deep inside flowers which is why their tongues need to be so long.
- Bees use their proboscis to suck out the sweet nectar drink, a bit like we would use a straw.
- They also use it to clean their fur and will groom each other too! (We’re glad we don’t have to clean our family that way!)
Here’s some video footage of the bee drinking. We think it’s amazing.
We were also able to see how amazingly furry the bee was and how big its eyes were. Our research told us that bees are able to see ultra violet light which is invisible to humans!
We loved the pattern of its wings too.
It’s been great fun to learn about bees through first hand observation and the children have followed up their learning on the internet and through books.
It also got us singing some bee songs and rhymes that they used to enjoy when they were younger. We even made a short video of one of our favourite early years bee finger rhymes that’s great for early counting development and super for fun tickles and cuddles.
Do your little ones love bees too? Perhaps you have a favourite insect rhyme you’d like to share?