How to Teach Kids to Love Honey
Honey is not bee puke. Did you know a whole lot of kids think it is? Did you also know that there are a lot of kids out there that really don’t like honey!? So, beekeepers, let’s change that! Whether you visit a classroom, host a table at a state fair, or do a presentation for a group of scouts or summer campers, you can help kids love and appreciate honey, bees, and beekeepers.
Below is a lesson that I’ve put together for my upcoming “Kids and Bee Resource Booklet.” It outlines all you need to know to steward the next generation of honey connoisseurs.
Understand where honey comes from,
Understand the difference between nectar, honey, and pollen,
Observe different colors of honey,
Identify different flavor profiles in honey.
Five varieties of high-quality local honey, fresh pollen, UC Davis “Honey Flavor and Aroma Wheel”, poster or print out of a bee’s internal anatomy, toothpicks, garbage can, wet wipes, an observation hive that has honey and pollen on the frame, a section of honeycomb, National Honey Board’s “Honey Floral Source Guide” poster.
Activity and Discussion:
Welcome kids to your “learning station.” Ask them if they know where honey comes from. Nope. It’s not “bee puke.” It’s flower nectar, which worker honey bees collect from flowers. They store it in their “honey crop.” This is like a chipmunk cheek. The bee stores the honey, like a chipmunk stores nuts and seeds for its nest. When the worker bee arrives back at the hive, she passes the nectar off to another bee, through their proboscises. The bee inside the hive puts it into a honey comb “cell.” It’s still not honey, though. Bees add enzymes to the nectar, and evaporate over 80% of the moisture off of the nectar (using their wings as a fan). When it’s the right consistency, the bees seal it with wax. (Use the anatomy poster, and the real honey comb to point out what you are talking about)
Ask them to tell you the difference between honey and nectar. Then ask them to tell you the difference between nectar and pollen. Nectar is a carbohydrate (sugar) rich liquid. Pollen is a protein-rich powder that comes from flowers, as well. This is used to feed the “babies,” the larva. Show them where the pollen is stored (if you have an observation hive).
Using a toothpick, give each student a taste of each honey and pollen – you serve them, they don’t serve themselves, or you will get whole fists inside the jars. Give them just ONE pellet of pollen, more could trigger allergies.
Use the Honey Flavor and Aroma Wheel and encourage them to describe the honey beyond, “it’s good” “it’s sweet” etc. It is spicy? Is it woody? Does it taste burned? Tropical? Have them describe it in a sentence. My favorite one to date is, “It tastes like a unicorn sitting on a sparkly marshmallow.”
Ask them why the honey tastes and looks different. It’s the source of the flower nectar that gives the honey it’s color and unique flavor. Use the “Honey Floral Source Guide” to explain this.
Ask them to guess how much honey a bee will make in her lifetime. Give them options, a cup, a teaspoon, or 1/12 of a teaspoon, (its 1/12 of a teaspoon).
Ask them to guess how many flowers it takes to make one pound of honey (it’s about 2 million, depending on the source, of course, but this really puts in to perspective how hard bees work).
Ask if they have any questions.
Again, ask them to tell you the difference between honey, nectar, and pollen.
If you sell honey, and they LOVED your variety, don’t be afraid to give them a business card that lists where to buy your honey!
References and More Activities: