Free Nature Studies: The Honey Bee

Honey bees collect pollen and build hives where they store honey.


Compared to some of the other lessons, this one contains a lot of information!  You might want to break it up into two lessons, if you have the time.  The honey bee’s role in pollination is covered in a later lesson on plants.

Read the current chapter: “The Honey Bee”


  • The lesson begins by discussing the different honey flavors depending on the nectar source.  Make a chart of the common floral varieties and where they are typically located.  See resources below for help.
  • If you are in a position and location to do so, build an observation hive.  You’ll find resources below.
  • Understand the differences between the three different types of bees in the hive: queen, drone and worker.  The Three Bees at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture will get you started.  Make a chart, listing the characteristics of each. See resources below for notebooking options.
  • Study and create a notebooking page illustrating the life cycle of the honey bee.  See resources below.
  • Something to do #1 & #2: Obviously be very careful if attempting one these suggested activities.  The Handbook of Nature Study offers suggestions for studying the honeybee on page 394 under Lesson 99: The Honeybee — Method.
  • Something to do #3: You’ll find an excellent description of the honeybee’s wings along with a diagram and closeup of how the wing works at David A. Cushman’s site (scroll down).  The fact that the bee can couple his wings together to form one surface allows him to fly very fast and very far.
  • Something to do #4: This information sheet on honeybee senses at the University of Arizona will help you answer the question in the fourth suggested activity.  Use the Hexagonal Petal mentioned below to summarize the bee’s five senses.
  • Something to do #5: Honey is frequently mentioned in the Bible.  Use some of the verses listed in the lesson for the Little Book of Bible Verses mentioned.  Older students can choose several verses that are used to illustrate important concepts.  What analogies do they find?  You’ll find resources below for finding Bible verses about bees and honey.
  • Something to do #6: The riddle is found in Judges 14:14 and the answer in Judges 14:18.
  • Use the Bible verses listed for copywork or dictation.
  • More of the honey bee’s story from the Book of Knowledge:

If you look closely at a honeybee on a flower, you can see how she works and the tools that she uses. You can see the long, flexible, horny tongue thrust out to suck the sweet flower nectar up into her crop [referred to as the honey stomach in the lesson]. In her crop the nectar is changed chemically so that when it is stored in the wax cells of the hive, it ripens into honey. On each side of the tongue the bee has a mandible, a jaw that she uses to manipulate wax.

Notice her large eyes. How much can those big eyes see? Scientists have learned a great deal about what a honeybee can see by careful experiments in training bees to associate colors and patterns with food. Bees see only four colors clearly — yellow, blue-green, blue and ultraviolet. They confuse other colors. Red looks black to them. Ultraviolet is invisible to humans but an important color to bees because many flowers reflect ultraviolet light.

Bees find complicated patterns most easily, because these patterns flicker — they seem to be moving as the bee flies over them. You know how a picket fence seems to flicker when you run along beside it. A plain wall does not give the same effect. You know, too, how much easier it is to spot a rabbit in the bushes if it moves. Bees find flowers more easily if they are swaying in the breeze. Bees can detect polarization of light, which we cannot do except with artificial aids….

Where is the nose of a bee? The antennae can smell and taste as well as feel. They are more important than the eyes for finding nectar-filled flowers. Bees can smell many different artificial odors as well as natural flower scents, and they seem to be able to smell about the same ones that we can…. Bees can taste with their mouth parts and their front legs as well as with their antennae.

Where are the bee’s ears? None are known. Bees cannot be trained to come to food by sound or to show any other particular reaction to sound. Perhaps they cannot hear. Of course, if you pound on a beehive you will probably get plenty of response, but the bees feel the blows shake the hive; they do not hear the noise.

“Bees and Wasps,” The Book of Knowledge
  • The Honeybee
    Ready to go outdoors? The Handbook of Nature study covers honeybees beginning on page 391.

Further Investigation

Honeybee Facts
Basic facts at the Back Yard Bee Keepers Association.

Bee Basics
48-page color download from the USDA with great background information and diagrams for notebook.

Types of Honey
From Scroll down to “Honey Color and Flavor” for a list of the most common honey varieties.

Honey Locator
Honey locator at the National Honey Board.  This is more complete and complex than the above site, that will show you what varieties are available in your area. You can also use the advanced search options to search for a specific type of honey.

Anatomy of a Hive
From PBS Nova.

Honey Bees—Life Cycle
Fascinating video that provides detailed life cycle information.
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)

Anatomy of a Worker Honey Bee
From the University of Arizona.

Honey Bee Swarms
Information from the University of Arkansas.

Bible Topics: Honey
From The New Topical Textbook by R. A. Torrey.


Interactive Honey Bee
Interactive at is a great way to learn bee anatomy!

Free Beginning Beekeeping Packet
Download from the American Beekeeping Federation.

Observation Hives
If you are ready to try it yourself, you’ll find complete instructions on building an observation hive at the University of Kentucky.

Observation Bee Hives
Another option at the University of Florida.

Honey Recipes
Cooking with honey?  Dozens of honey recipes at the National Honey Board.

The First Book of Bees {Free eBook}

The First Book of Bees by Albert B. Tibbets
Great introductory book about bees in the public domain.

The Children’s Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck
Classic in the public domain.

The Honey Bee ~ Free eBook

The Honey Bee ~ Free eBook
Over 80 illustrations make this one handy for creating a notebook.

Buz by Maurice Noel
Another public domain classic subtitled The Life and Adventures of a Honey Bee.

Farmers’ Bulletin 447: Bees by E. F. Phillips
Public domain bulletin with tons of information on how to keep bees!

The Behavior of the Honey Bee in Pollen Collection by D.B. Casteel
This public domain work is easy to understand, fascinating and nicely illustrated.  Scientific slant for the older student.

Free Nature Studies: The Honey Bee

The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco
A fun tie-in for younger children.  Using an inspired search for honey by following a bee to its hive, the lesson becomes the diligence of learning.  By one of our favorite and most highly recommended authors.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Free Unit: A Honey of a Unit Study
This unit study covers history, science, Bible, and honey.

Honey Bee Anatomy and Identification
For high school students, this lesson at the University of Arizona includes dissection (explanations and activity sheets included).

Winnie-the-Pooh: A Unit Study

Winnie-the-Pooh: A Unit Study
One of our own.  Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees makes a cute tie-in.  You’ll find several activities along with the text of this first Pooh story.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

The Honey Files: A Bee’s Life
This free 98-page teacher’s guide from the National Honey Board contains a wealth of information and notebooking resources.  Included is anatomy labeling diagrams, worksheets on life cycle, the three types of bees, identification tips, and pollination, puzzles, a data sheet for observation, information about honey, recipes, beekeeping, trivia, a math tie-in and bibliography.  Excellent resource!

Nature Journal Notebooking Sets {Free Download}

Nature Journal Notebooking Sets {Free Download}
Free blank nature journal sets for drawing, illustrating, copying, or narrating.

Honey Bee Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World

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