Monday, July 18, 2011

Nature Net News - July 2011 - Buzzing Bees

Nature Net News
Your source for tips & tricks for exploring nature with your kids

Dear Reader,

What's the buzz about bees?
"How doth the little busy Bee
Improve each shining Hour,
And gather Honey all the day
From every opening Flower!"
"Against Idleness And Mischief" by Isaac Watts

Bees are busy pollinators, and their pollination helps produce over one-third of the human diet! That's not even including the delicious honey in everything from our morning tea to our lip balm.

However, bees are often vilified due to the little stinger that they use for defense, in addition to their aggressive relatives, including the wasp, which patterns itself after the bee. Some bees, such as the bumblebee, sting very rarely and are quite mild.

These buzzing beauties are in danger due to many modern factors, including pesticides (they don't distinguish between bugs), climate change (seasonal changes are affecting the synchronization of flower openings and bee emergence), and even cell phones (which can disorient bees so they cannot find their way back to their hives).

So take a look at this issue of Nature Net News and learn more about these buzzing critters. You'll definitely bee-come more interested!


Kathe, Sarah & Brenna
The Folks at Nature Net

Did You Know..... 
Bees have existed on this planet for over 100 million years, according to a fossil found by Oregon State University.

The European honey bee is Wisconsin's State Insect, despite being a non-native species.

Bumblebees are considered eight times more effective at pollination than honey bees at pollinating certain types of fruit, like blueberries. However, honey bees produce more honey.

Only queens and worker bees have stingers. Male bees have no stingers.

Bees have two pairs of wings!

What To Do This Month:
Come watch the busy bees pollinating the beautiful outdoor gardens at Olbrich Botanical Gardens!

Join The Bee Hunt, a scientific study to understand the impact of climate change and other factors on plant-pollinator interactions.

Check out the Butterflies Flutter By Walk on Sunday, July 10 at the UW Arboretum!

Learn about pollinator gardens (watch this clip from WPT's Wisconsin Gardener, read this article, check out these guides from the Pollinator Partnership, and visit these Community GroundWorks resources on gardening with kids) and cultivate some native plants in a sunny spot near you to attract and observe bees and other pollinators. 

Tricks of the Trail for Parents:

Buzzing Bees Beware!
While bees are amazing critters, when provoked, a little bee will give up its life (and a sting) to make sure you leave her hive alone. So, while bee-watching, make sure to stay out of the bees' way. Leave them alone and they'll do the same!

Instant Outdoor Expert:

How To Tell a Honey Bee from a Bumblebee
Shape: The honey bee is very streamlined with a "waist" and looks much like a short wasp. A bumblebee has a circular body and is noticeably fuzzy, especially on its bum(ble). It is larger than the honey bee.

Color: Honey bees have black and orange-yellow stripes, while bumblebees have black and yellow stripes.

Movement: A bumblebee is very slow and lazy and meanders from side to side, while a honey bee zips around and is always in a rush.

Temperament: Bumblebees are very gentle and will only attack under extreme provoked circumstances. Honey bees are more aggressive.

Featured Nature Net Site:
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Stroll 16 acres of outdoor gardens featuring stunning landscapes and Midwest-hardy plants. The Outdoor Gardens are free and open daily. Or, visit the tropics in the Bolz Conservatory, filled with exotic plants, flowers, orchids, birds, and a waterfall.

Also be certain to learn more about pollinators at the annual Butterflies and Blooms exhibit, starting July 13th and going through August 7th!
Admission to Butterflies and Blooms:
Ages 13 & up: $5
Children ages 3 - 12: $3
Ages 2 and under: Free
Olbrich Botanical Society members: Free

Nature Craft: 
Paper Plate Puppet
What you need: 2 paper plates, yellow paint, black paint, small triangle of black paper, strip of paper, tissue or wax paper, black pipe cleaner, pencil, glue or stapler, scissors.

1. Paint the bottom-sides of the paper plates yellow and let dry.
2. Paint black stripes across the plates and add eyes and a face. Let dry.
3. While paint is drying, cut four wings out of the tissue or wax paper. Once your bee is dry, attach the wings with glue or staples to the top plate.
4. Using the pencil, poke two holes in the plate above the eyes and thread the pipe cleaner through them for antennae.
5. Glue or staple the triangle of black paper to the back of your bee, giving it a stinger.
6. Staple the two plates together so they form a pouch, or bee body, leaving an opening in the back with enough space for your hand to fit through. 
7. Place your bee puppet on your hand and buzz around!
(Nature Craft adapted from DLTK's Crafts for Children)

Suggested Reading:
"Buzzy the Bumblebee" by Denise Brennan-Nelson (preschool)
"The Very Greedy Bee" by Steve Smallman (2-5)
"In the Trees, Honey Bees!" by Lori Mortensen (2-6)
"The Life and Times of the Honeybee" by Charles Micucci (4-8)
"Are You a Bee?" by Judy Allen (4-8)
"The Bee Tree" by Patricia Polacco (4-8)
"The Beautiful Bee Book" by Sue Unstead (4-8)
"The Magic School Bus: Inside a Beehive" by Joanna Cole (4-8)
"A Bee's Life" by Nancy Dickmann (4-8)
"The Hive Detectives" by Loree Griffin Burns (9-12)

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