In September and October of 2000 when the various trees were clothed in
shades of yellow, red, amber and brown, photographs were taken,
bark rubbings were made and
mounted, leaves were collected and pressed and the position of each
tree noted. While this was all very enjoyable and exciting for the
children, I was thinking ahead towards the spring of 2001 when the
same trees would flower and provide nectar and pollen for the bees.
In an effort to ascertain what knowledge the children already had
regarding bees or beekeeping,
20 very simple questions
were compiled and all questions were to be answered without the aid of any adult.
The answers were a mixed
bag: some very correct and others very amusing. e.g. "How long do you
think a bee might live"? Answer:- "Forever, if he is lucky"! By my
supplying the correct answers afterwards, we were in the first stage
of building a useful beekeeping vocabulary.
Having gleaned what knowledge the children had, I then set about
finding out what was the extent of their interest. We changed
roles: the children set the questions and I promised to answer them.
(The questions that they asked are listed on a
In this exercise the children were free to compile their questions at
home. This was a way of canvassing the interest of parents or older
brothers or sisters. In answering all the questions, apart from
supplying the information asked for, more vocabulary building was
By mid-November it was very evident that the children were really
interested in the project: All information was being stored by them in
fancy folders and the nature table became a miniature bee world.
Sketches of queen bees, drones, workers, wings, legs and pollen
baskets etc. adorned the classroom walls.|
When the early spring flowers appeared, the children, in small groups,
began to observe the bees at work. To see the bees flit from flower
to flower among the snowdrops, crocuses and spring flowers was indeed
a joy. A little later when the heathers came into bloom, it was then,
that seeing is believing hit home. Quite clearly the pollen loads were
visible on the bees' legs. Recording their findings was really
wonderful for the children. The more the children became interested,
the more the parents caught on as well, and that was evident from
their queries and comments.|
In September 2000, the position of certain trees was noted. Now, in
spring 2001, it was time to observe these same trees in leaf and
flower. The children's observations were noted in their individual
A brand new national hive for the class was the reward
for good record keeping. Having the hive was an opportunity for the
handle and name
each part of a hive. The whole learning process was in keeping with
the theory of "dá mhéad céadfaí a bhíonn ag obair is arnhlaidh is
fearr". (The more ways of learning the better). From the outset
the children had been hearing that honey is a pure and wholesome food.
Now towards the closing weeks and days of their project, it was time
for them to test that out in the cookery school. Over two weeks they
did just that, and some delicious
sweets and ice creams were produced.
Since a famous Beekeeper, Turlough O'Bryan, "The Beeman from
County Clare", was born in Ardee, it was only fair that a spot of
history should be included in our program. The best collectors of
information on his life were to be my helpers at the removal of an
early crop of honey.
The morning spent in extracting
"the pure and wholesome food" was very interesting and
enjoyable for everybody.