- Sponsorship -

Buzzing with Curiosity, Students Learn About Bees

Parker Perdaris took it in stride as his classmates secured various honey bee-body parts to a cardboard cutout he wore to simulate the head, thorax and abdomen. First came the eyes — called compound eyes because they’re actually hundreds of tiny eyes that detect polarized light — then the stinger, plus six legs, two sets of wings, a straw-like tongue called a proboscis used to draw nectar, and basket-like hairs on their legs for collecting pollen.

Caden Gahan tries out a beekeeping outfit
Caden Gahan tries out a beekeeping outfit

It helps to remember the parts of a honey bee when you can stick them on yourself.

That’s what Parker and fellow Bushnell Elementary first-graders learned recently during a trip to the Wittenbach/Wege Environmental Agriscience Center.

Bee anatomy was just one part of district first-graders’ look at life cycles and habitats. They also visited a meadow, pond and woods on the property to learn about insects, spiders, fish and critters that live under logs.

The goal, said center Director Courtney Cheers, is for first-graders to learn about animals native to the area and their life cycles; that they all need food, water, shelter and air to survive; and which animals are found in a given habitat.

Parker Perdaris makes like a bee

Lazy Drones and Waggle Dancers

Cheers and beekeeper Lee Bolt also shared some lesser-known facts about bees:

  • There are approximately 450 type of bees native to Michigan, and most are solitary, meaning they do not live in hives.
  • In a hive, there is one queen, a dozen workers and an all-male cast of drones. Bolt called drones “lazy bees,” whose sole job is to “fly around all day and eat honey.”
  • The darker parts of a honeycomb are cells where bees have already cocooned/been born.
  • A hive of agitated bees smells like ripe bananas.
  • Bees do a figure eight-ish “waggle dance” when they want to show hive-mates where food is.

Though Parker looked anything but ominous in his bee costume, Bolt and Cheers emphasized to the first-graders how important it is to not appear threatening to the typically non-aggressive insects when you approach their hives. Moving slowly, not swatting at them and wearing light clothing are just a few tips.

Saranac beekeeper Lee Bolt talks about the kinds of bees there are in Michigan
Saranac beekeeper Lee Bolt talks about the kinds of bees there are in Michigan

“I’m terrified of them,” Bolt admitted. “I just have to keep telling myself not to freak out. It’s all about having a healthy respect.”


More fun facts about bees

So bees think they can dance

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


Fourth-grader’s pickle stand inspired by school marketplace

‘With my tiny fingers, I am good at stuffing them,’ said the young pickle peddler. ‘You can see how they are packed in, so you get more for the money’...

Looking for classroom lessons in the great outdoors

Sally Triant is exploring every GRPS campus in the city, looking for places to turn the outdoors into an educational opportunity...

Home schooling inquiries grow as parents ponder how to meet children’s needs

The pandemic has caused parents to seek options for schooling and socialization. For some, home schooling becomes an option, while others create new ways to help their children...

GRPS to continue virtual-only instruction for rest of semester

GRPS leaders decided to extend the district's 100 percent virtual learning model for the rest of the first semester after the Kent County Health Department announced rapidly rising COVID-19 positivity rates...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

COVID-19 cases prompt two-week closing of middle school

Lowell Middle School has been closed for two weeks due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, moving to online instruction...

Just one fire ant in a flood

Craig Veldman is the new principal for Cherry Creek Elementary School. School News Network gets to know him better – and learns a little bit about fire ants, too – in this edition of Meet Your Administrator...

The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU