Teaching children about bumblebees

Part of my job involves hosting stalls at fairs, shows and other places. I recently attended a special day for environmental organisations at the ‘Our Dynamic Earth’ attraction in Edinburgh. ODE is a very popular attraction that aims to teach people – especially children – about the earth, including geology, ecosystems, space, etc. It gave me then an opportunity to meet a new, large audience, to spread the word about the plight of the bumblebee.

As most visitors to ODE are families with children, I brought along my bumblebee-nest-in-a-box and lots of interactive things for the children to do. So while the children were colouring-in bumblebees and flowers or doing crosswords and wordsearches, I would chat to them about bumblebees. I’d often explain the bumblebee lifecycle and the different roles that bees have in the nest – for example, the role of the queen and the various jobs of the workers (collecting food = shopping, looking after larvae = babysitting, guarding the nest = being a soldier). It was interesting then to hear the children’s thoughts on what type of bee they’d like to be; unsurprisingly, most girls said they’d like to be the queen (even when I told them that once the queen establishes her nest she never leaves again!) and most boys wanted to be guard worker bees.

Personally, I think I’d prefer to be a food-collecting worker bee, as they get to spend the summer outdoors!  What type of bee would you bee?

If you are interested in using some of the activities we have for children, you can download them from our website at this location, but if you sign up as a volunteer we’ll be able to send you much more, including a presentation that can be delivered to schools. If you’d like that, email us at

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