An Unexpected Lesson

One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling is the freedom it affords to pursue interesting topics you might otherwise not have time for, especially topics you weren’t planning on studying.

Last weekend, as my husband came in from an errand, he had news to share. “Come outside!” he said excitedly. “I’ve found a beehive!”

We all ran outside and looked up in the tree near our driveway. Sure enough, there were the honeybees — I had never seen so many before. As we looked closer, we saw two hives, one larger than the other. The bees covered them; there were so many bees, in fact, that at times they caused something on the hive to break off and fall to the ground.

“I wonder why we’ve never seen those there before,” I said.

We watched the bees for a while, then went back to what we were doing. About a half hour later, I decided it would be interesting to have a photo of the hives, and my oldest son went out to take the picture. Within a few moments, he returned.

“They’re gone,” he said. “There’s nothing there.” We all went out again, and he was right — the hives, and all of the bees, were gone.

After some quick investigation on the Internet, we realized that we weren’t actually looking at beehives, but rather a swarm of honeybees. This amazing phenomenon occurs when the bees’ current colony becomes overpopulated; a group of 1500 – 30,000 bees will leave the hive in search of a new location in which build a new nest. At times they will settle on branches in a huge pile (they stay together as a group because of a pheromone produced by the queen), with some even “falling” off the edges. We also learned that our swarm was an unusual one, as bees usually swarm in the late spring and early summer.

What a great lesson for the whole family! And what better time to learn about honeybees, their colonies, and pollination!  While good lessons are often the result of careful planning, some lessons you just discover — even hanging in a tree.

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Guest Blogger: Samantha Bell



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