Lesson 1.1

The Honey Bee Body

Grades: K-3

Essential Skills: Science, Language Arts, Art

Duration: 1 - 2 class periods


Students construct a paper honey bee to learn the six major parts of a bee and other insects. They will compare their own body parts to those of bees.


Teacher Preparation:

Curriculum Support Materials:

  1. Poster 1. Honey bee collecting pollen
  2. Poster 3. Honey bee queen and workers on comb
  3. Poster 4. Common bees and wasps

Other Materials:

  1. Dark orange or orangish-brown construction paper (for bee body). Friendly warning: Although your instinct may be to choose yellow-and-black for the body colors, honey bees are actually deep burnt-orange with alternating darker bands on their abdomen. Bumble bees and wasps are yellow-and-black. This color can be achieved by having the students color over orange construction paper with a brown crayon or marker.
  2. White construction paper, typewriter paper or plastic overhead sheets (for wings)
  3. Gray or black construction paper, or pipe cleaners (for antennae and/or legs)
  4. Black marker, glue stick, scissors and stapler
  5. Standard nine-inch diameter white paper plates (for bee bonnet)
  6. Letter size white paper (for bee bonnet)

Information Sheets:

Activity Sheets:
No. 2a Vocabulary Test

Lesson Plan

Introduction (15 minutes)

Show your students Posters 1 and 2, explaining that they will construct a honey bee body that will look similar to the bees in the pictures. Show them Poster 4, explaining the difference in coloration between honey bees, bumble bees and wasps (see Lesson 1.6).

Show or give each student a copy of Activity Sheet 2 (Parts of a worker honey bee). Explain the different body parts and their functions.

Activity 1 Constructing a honey bee body (45 minutes)

Prepare a completed sample of the construction paper honey bee so you will have one sample put together in advance and also one to put together during the demonstration.

Distribute a copy of the Activity Sheet 1 pattern to each student.You may want to enlarge it to 150% or larger for younger classes. Have them cut out all eight parts to use as templates. Have the students trace the template patterns for the three main body parts onto the orange paper. Glue the pieces so the thorax overlaps the abdomen by about 1/3 inch and the head overlaps the thorax the same amount.

Have the students count the correct number of wings (2 for a one-sided bee) and trace them onto the white paper. After the wings have been cut, students should glue them in the correct positions onto the honey bee body (on the thorax, with the smaller under wing under and be hind the larger fore-wing.)

Students can either trace and cut the antennae and legs from the gray or black construction paper, or you can provide them with dark pipe cleaners to use for this purpose.

Let students draw compound eyes on the head with a black marker. They should also draw a few bands around the abdomen, starting about halfway down and filling in the entire end por tion.

Include details such as simple eyes, pollen baskets, veins on the wings, and the stinger, to make more lifelike bees. Bottle caps can be glued to the hind legs to serve as pollen baskets. Cotton balls can then be added and removed to simulated pollen storage.

Activity 2 Making a colony of bees (30 minutes)

Read The Honeybee by Paula Hogan to the students. Give each student a copy of Activity Sheet No. 3 (Worker, queen and drone). Explain the difference in the sizes of each of the three bees. Talk briefly about their functions.

Assemble a colony of bees with some drones and a queen. To construct a drone bee, make the abdomen slightly longer and wider. To construct a queen bee, make the abdomen about twice as long, but not much wider.

Put the three types of honey bees on the bulletin board or wall to make a "colony."

AHB Note: The bees known as Africanized honey bees look just like the common garden honey bee. Only an expert using special equipment can tell them apart.

Activity 3 Bee bonnet (30 minutes)

Have students cut the center from the paper plate so they are left with only the outside edge forming a ring. Have them cut the letter-size paper lengthwise into one-inch wide strips. Cross two strips across the opening of the plate and staple as indicated. Staple or paste construction paper bees to either the top of the hat or the outside edge, as student desires.

Hats may be used for pollination activity or bee dance. Bees may also be used for jewelry or mobiles.

Conclusion (30 minutes)

After the students have completed their construction paper bees, bring the class together and have the children volunteer to tell the class one new thing they learned about bees.

Relate the body parts they learned about the bees to their own body parts. How many legs did the bee have? Do bees have arms? Point out that bees and humans both have a head, eyes, etc. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages to having wings.

Distribute a copy of Activity Sheet 4 (Honey Bee coloring sheet) to each student and encour age them to color it using crayons.



Words with special meanings:

(for understanding only, not to be tested)

  1. Abdomen
  2. Antennae
  3. Head
  4. Thorax
  5. Eye
  6. Worker
  7. Queen
  8. Drone
  9. Stinger
  10. Pollen basket


Using Live Insects in Elementary Classrooms, Lesson One: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, by H.H. Hagedorn, J. Armstrong and J. Bardwell. Published by the University of Arizona, Center for Insect Science, 1994.

Bouncing Bugs - Bee, by David Hawcock and Lee Montgomery. Published by Random House, New York. 1994. Pop-up book.

The Honeybee, by Paula Z. Hogan, illustrations by Geri K. Stringenz. Published by Raintree Children's Books, 1979.

La Abeja, by Paula Z. Hogan, illustrations by Geri K. Stringenz. Published by Libros Infantiles Raintree, 1979.

The Life Cycle of the Honeybee, by Paula Z. Hogan, illustrations by Geri K. Stringenz. Published by The Steck-Vaughn Company, 1991.

Honeybees, by J. Lecht. Published by The National Geographic Society, 1973.