March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Two Lessons for Spring – BZZZZ

Posted: Sunday, April 1st, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

Non-Verbal Communications, Aka The Waggle Dance

Overview

Bees have been observed communicating the location of rich pollen sites to other bees in their hives by doing a “dance” that indicates the direction and distance to a pollen source. In this activity, you will simulate the bee wiggle dance by creating a series of non- verbal body signals that will direct other students to a “flower’s” location.

For more information on the Bee Waggle Dance, check out the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nga4Z_HRUsU.

Procedure

1. Select 2 people to serve as “Scout” bees for their respective hives (the classroom).  Hide two prizes in another area of your building to represent a flower that is a rich source of pollen.  Show the scouts the location of the “flower”

2. Demonstrate the Bee Wiggle Dance motions that represent direction and distance. These could include tail wagging, arm flapping, spinning or hopping.  For this activity, the dance motions are as follows:

a) Distance:  Steps- 1 step for near 5 steps for far.  Steps should come before spins

b) Direction: Spinning in circles.  After three rotations, the direction the bee is facing is the direction to the “flower”.

c) Elevation: Fold arms like wings.  Wings point to relative elevation of the “flower”

3. After showing the scouts the location of the “flower” have them dance the directions to the flower using only non-verbal cues.

4. Send the worker bees out to pollinate (bring back the prize).

5. Recognize the winning team.


Chemo Receptors in Bees

Overview

Bees utilize a very sensitive sense of smell to identify hive mates and queens so that they can be sure that they are in the correct colony when returning from pollination forays away from the hive.  In this activity, you will use smell (chemo receptors) to identify hive mates. Once you determine your hive mate, you will attempt to determine if you are in the correct hive. You will know you are in the correct hive if your scent matches the scent of the queen bee “Q”.  If you are in the wrong hive, the other bees will force you out.

Materials

Prepare two sets of scent vials using two common spices so that you have enough unique scents for every person in the class. Avoid any spices that might cause allergic reactions.  (A nice multi-cultural twist is to select cooking spices from stores that specialize in non-western cooking).   Be sure to use distinct scents to facilitate finding a hive mate.  Prepare one additional scent vial using one of the two scents marked “Q” to represent the queen bee.  You may need to poke small holes in the top of the scent vial and you may want to insert a thin layer of cotton or part of a cotton ball on the inside of the lid to prevent the scent substance from coming out. Students should rely solely on their sense of smell to find a partner.  No opening the containers or tapping out contents on the table. Film canisters make great sense containers but digital photography makes finding these canisters more and more difficult. It is important that the containers be opaque to emphasize the need to use only the sense of smell.

Procedure

1. Distribute scent vials randomly throughout the classroom.

2. Give students an opportunity to identify hive mates.  It may help to turn lights down to facilitate a heightened sense of smell. It is often difficult for students to filter out visual or auditory stimuli in an effort to concentrate on the olfactory cues

3. Once hive mates have been identified, introduce the queen scent vial and have teams determine if they are in the correct hive.

4. Discuss clues students used.  Would it have been as easy to do if the scents were not familiar to them?

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

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