Local farmer and New School Montessori parent, Carrie Driehaus, has been sharing what she’s learned about bees with our students at all levels.
Preprimary students learned about how honey is made, the life cycle of a bee and the work of bees both in and outside of the hive. Students tasted honey, held a waxy honeycomb and observed bees at work inside Carrie’s traveling Plexiglas-covered hive.
The elementary students focused on challenges facing bees and other pollinators in our modern world and what they can do to help.
- The effects of pesticides and unseasonal weather are interfering with important navigational and seasonal cues for honey bees.
- If flowering crops aren’t pollinated, plants won’t produce the resulting fruit, veggie or grain. This greatly affects us, as 85% of our food requires pollination. Even ice cream relies on pollinators since alfalfa is fed to dairy cattle.
- Scientists have discovered a 90% decline in Monarch butterflies over the last 20 years, and bumble bees and honey bees are also in serious trouble.
What can I do to help our pollinators?
We tend to think of honey bees as our primary crop pollinators, but bats, hummingbirds, butterflies, wasps, bumble bees, mason bees and moths are important pollinators as well. We can provide food and specialized shelter for these creatures to do our part to grow their numbers.
- During drought: Keep a shallow pan of water in your yard with small rocks to serve as landing islands for thirsty bees and other parched pollinators.
- Put up specialized animal houses: Bat, butterfly, ladybug and mason bee houses will make it easier for these pollinators to reproduce and can eliminate the need to use pesticides because they can keep pests under control naturally. (Hosting bats will also reduce your yard’s mosquito and beetle population as each bat consumes half its body weight in insects each night.)
- Stop using pesticides, and delay mowing for a bit to let clover and dandelions bloom for a few days before removing their flowered tops.
- You might consider leaving a small area in the backyard un-raked or keep some leaves piled in your flowerbeds to serve as important habitat. Though monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico for the winter, the vast majority of butterflies, moths and native bees overwinter under a blanket of leaves.
Carrie Driehaus is happy to have you contact her with questions or to request that she speak to your group. Call The New School Montessori (513-281-7999) to ask for Carrie’s email address.