Posted on July 27, 2016
As part of an outreach programme to create awareness about the plight of the bee, the Social Insect Research Group (SIRG) from the Department of Zoology and Entomology aka 'The Bee Group' visited the Grade 7 learners of Cornwall Hill College during their Natural Science lessons earlier this year.
The aim of the visit was to educate the learners about pollination services, bee keeping and bee conservation in the light of the worrying declines in bee population across the globe recently. Bees and other pollinators and the invaluable pollinating services they provide, help to produce approximately one out of every three bites of food we eat. Most crops that are grown for their fruits (including vegetables), nuts, seeds, fibre (such as cotton) and hay require pollination by insects. Pollinating insects also play a critical role in maintaining natural plant communities and ensuring production of seeds in most flowering plants. By far, the main insect pollinators, are bees, and while honey bees are the best known and widely managed pollinators, there are also hundreds of other species of bees that contribute, to some extent, to pollination services for crops and are very important in natural ecosystems.
The lessons were both informative and interactive. Not only did the learners have the opportunity to view bee larvae and pupae through the microscope, but the display also included worker bees carrying pollen in their pollen baskets on their hind legs and a rare glimpse of the queen bee. The learners were treated to a taste of freshly harvested comb honey from the University's apiary, which was the first time many of the learners tasted honey in the wax comb. The main attractions however, were most definitely the observation hive – a small sealed hive consisting of two brood frames and 200 to 300 young bees cleaning and tending the brood. The box has glass panels through which the activities inside the hive can be viewed. Afterwards, the teacher quizzed the learners a bit on the subject of bees and pollination. These clever youngsters seemed to know the correct answers to all the questions. This demonstrates that these future leaders are keen on bee keeping!
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