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Talking 'bees' with Pre-School children

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

I’m Jem and I'm the beekeeper behind Jem's Bees. I’m starting this blog with an account of a recent visit to a Pre-School which touched my heart and mind in a way I wasn’t expecting. On the 6th October 2022 I went to visit the Pre-School in Fordham, Cambridgeshire. The children there were aged between 2.5-4yrs old. This was my first time talking ‘bees’ to a group this young so I was pretty nervous about it.

When I asked the children what a beekeeper did, I got the words ‘honey’, ‘flowers’ and ‘nectar’ back which got us off to a brilliant start! I then showed them a frame of empty comb from a beehive and we imagined the cells were cupboards waiting to be filled up by the bees.

The next part of my plan was to get the children to imagine they were bees and to act out the process of trophallaxis but without the regurgitation bit. I simplified it heavily using water and cups, a large flower, and an empty jar. I really wasn’t sure of how it’d go!

The group were tasked with getting a small measure of water from the flower at one end of the row of seats, to the jar at the other end. Each child had to receive water from a cup and then turn around to carefully pour the water in to the next child’s cup. As the skill of pouring drinks carefully is something the staff teach nice and early at Fordham, the children were so good at it and didn’t spill anything.

I left the children a jar of Jem’s Bees summer honey to enjoy with their breadsticks during snack break. As they were eating it, I was then given a tour of the various sections of bee-friendly garden by Jade the manager. There was so much care and kindness going on for pollinators. The school really had made use of every little bit of space they had available - huge credit to the staff.

As I left the school brainstorming how to do my observation beehive talk for the children next Spring, I was thinking about how important sensory learning is, and for everybody not just Pre-Schoolers. Smelling things, feeling textures with your hands, manipulating something in your hands…it’s all in-the-moment, in-the-present stuff. And it gets better when you share it with others. Being present in the room with the children as they touched the wax combs, smelled the beeswax candles, moved the cups, and asked me questions reminded me of these things.

I didn’t expect children this young to be as careful and as accommodating as they were with me… this is probably because I’m not used to spending time with children of this age. I was a complete stranger to them and yet I got hugged and offered coats, planets, and all manner of cool things! It was so lovely.

During the drive home, I thought about all who share aspects of their beekeeping world, and especially those who encouraged me personally to start beekeeping and give it a go. I feel I owe those people a lot and aspire to doing as good a job as they do when I share my beekeeping experiences with others. All of the photos in this post have been provided with kind permission from Kate Stafford and the rest of the staff at Fordham Pre-School.


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