Lesson 2.2

A Day in the Life of a Bee

Grades: 4-6

Essential Skills: Science, Literature, Math

Duration: 1-2 class periods


The students will be introduced to the workings of a honey bee colony. They will learn the members of a colony, how they develop and what their daily activities are.


Teacher Preparation:

Curriculum Support Materials:

  1. Poster 3. Honey bee queen and workers on comb
  2. Poster 5. Honey bee nest in a tree
  3. Poster 6. Beekeeper wearing a bee veil and holding a hive frame

Other Materials:

  1. Plastic honeycomb

Information Sheets:

Activity Sheets:

Lesson Plan

Introduction activity (10 minutes)

Hold up Poster 3, and introduce the idea that honey bees live in large families made up of a single queen and up to 60,000 workers, with a few males or drones thrown in as well. How does a society of that size function? What jobs need to be performed and who does them?

Activity 2 Members of a honey bee colony (45 minutes)

Have the students investigate the members of a honey bee colony and the day-to-day activities that occur within a hive. Use Information Sheet 3 as a reference.

Ask the students to develop their own list of questions or to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the difference between a queen, a drone, and a worker honey bee?
  2. What jobs do worker bees perform?
  3. How many worker bees are there in a typical honey bee colony?
  4. What is a nurse bee? What is brood?
  5. How do honey bees make honey?
  6. How do bees make wax?
  7. How do bees keep the hive cool?
  8. Do bees have enemies?
  9. What do bees eat?
  10. What products and services do honey bees provide for humans?

Have students prepare an oral or written report giving a detailed discussion of the jobs of each of the members of the honey bee hive: queen, worker, drone. Integrate ideas about working together. Discuss what would happen if some of the bees failed to perform their duties. You may want to split the class into groups. Have each group tackle one of the questions above and give a presentation to the class.

Activity 3 Metamorphosis in honey bees (30 minutes)

Put Activity Sheets 13, 14, and 15 together and display. Discuss the fact that honey bees pass through three stages before they become adults: eggs, larvae and pupae, a process known as complete metamorphosis. Collectively the immature bees are called the brood. The brood is reared within chambers called cells within the wax comb. Show the plastic honeycomb as an example. If appropriate, discuss the information in Activity Sheet 18 about why cells are six-sided.

Have the students develop a chart that shows the day-to-day progression from egg to adult for workers, drones and queens. Discuss why the different members of the colony might take longer to develop or require different foods.

AHB Note: Africanized honey bees produce more brood in a shorter period of time than regular European honey bees. Africanized honey bees may also start to forage at a much younger age.

Distribute Information Sheet 25, Diary of an Africanized honey bee. Have the students read the diary, underlining any words they do not understand.

Then have the students compare the chart they made above with information about Africanized honey bees. Are the number of days in each stage the same? In general, Africanized honey bees complete development in 19 days, whereas European honey bees take 20 days.



Words with special meanings:

(for understanding only, not to be tested)

  1. Worker
  2. Queen
  3. Drone
  4. Larva(e)
  5. Pupa(e)
  6. Brood
  7. Nurse bee
  8. Cells
  9. Comb


Life of the Honey Bee, by Heiderose Fischer-Nagel, illustrated by Andreas Fischer-Nagel. Published by Carolrhoda Books, Minn., 1986.

The Fascinating World of Bees, by A. Julivert. Published by Barrons, N.Y., 1991.

Las Abejas, by Maria Angels Julivert. Published by Parramon Ediciones, 1991.

The Honeybees, by F. Russell. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, N.Y., 1967.

All Kinds of Bees, by D. E. Shuttlesworth. Published by Random House, N.Y., 1967.