31 May 2012

The Colleges Rural Education Centre has been working with the Unit of Apiculture at Sussex University and the country’s leading bee expert Professor Ratnieks to install a new observation hive in the Centre.

Our new residents have now settled in and promise to provide a plethora of learning opportunities for children. The bees are housed in a large, safe and accessible indoor hive with a transparent front, a camera and projection equipment. This brings the children closer than ever to these amazing and important creatures. Children will be able to study the life cycle of the different bees found in the hive, and by getting up very close they have an excellent view of the different parts of the bee. On the large screen above the hive the children can watch and study first hand life for bees in the hive, and the different jobs they undertake to keep the hive running and produce their honey. Learning how the bees communicate with one another will also be fun for the children; decoding the bees famous Waggle Dance for instance, which is a behaviour that bees use to communicate to other bees in the hive the direction and distance of nectar and pollen. For the older children we can combine the study of bees and the ‘waggle dance’ with an orienteering adventure round the estate to see if we can decode the secret bee message, find the pollen and identify bees favourite plants. Honey tasting or getting creative with beeswax can also provide fun ways to highlight the different products provided by our busy little bee friends. Combined with our popular horticulture and growing activities we can highlight the essential role of bees in the pollination process of the many plants that surround us. Overall there is a wide range and breadth of topics we can undertake using the hive, the media equipment, games, crafts and activities to cover many topics and themes for KS1,2 and 3.