Building Bee Habitats 

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Listen to learn more about bees and hear a conservationist talk about what can be done to keep the population thriving.

Subject: Science
Grade level: Elementary

Many people have a negative reaction to the sound of a buzzing insect. Past experience or an allergic reaction may inspire a person to run from or even swat at a bee. However, bumblebees actually help humans, and right now they need the help of humans to maintain their survival.

Before Listening

  1. Activate prior knowledge:
    Begin the lesson by asking students to share what, if anything, they know about bees. Ask them to think about what bees look like, how they behave, and where they live. Explain that there is a type of bee, the bumblebee, that is very important to humans and nature alike. Bumblebees are pollinators, which means that they spread pollen from one plant to another. This helps plants produce flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Tell students that bee populations are declining, and ask them to consider what might happen if bumblebees no longer existed. Tell them that today they will be learning about threats to bumblebees and how they can help bees survive. 
  2. Vocabulary:
    Preview the vocabulary by reading aloud the terms and their definitions. Ask students to share what they know about each vocabulary word. Focus on the word “native.” Remind students that the word native is defined as “original to an area.” Think about what you see growing and living naturally around your area. Which plants, animals, and insects are native to your area?

    Explore the word family for “migration” by pairing students with partners to discuss and then define both “migrate” (the verb) and “migratory” (the adjective) based on their understanding of “migration.” Ask students if they know other related words (e.g. immigrant, immigration, migrant) and discuss the meaning of the root “migr” meaning “to move.”

    (noun) – animal that moves pollen from one plant to
    another causing fertilization of a plant
    hibernate (verb) – to sleep, or to be in a dormant state, for an
    extended period of time during the winter
    disturb (verb) – to bother or interrupt
    threat (noun) – something that is likely to cause pain, harm, or problems
    habitat (noun) – the home and surrounding area of a living thing
    native (adjective) – original to an area
  3. Introduce the story:
    Say to students: What has black and yellow stripes, is fuzzy, and buzzes? A bumblebee! They spend their days buzzing from plant to plant, pollinating as they go. These little insects are extremely important and they need our help to keep buzzing, as they face many threats. Listen to learn more about bumblebees and to find out from a conservationist what can be done to help these important insects.
  4. Active listening supports:
    Introduce the listening organizer to support students in understanding the story while listening to it. This is intended to guide students in taking notes to help them focus their listening.

During Listening

The Fact/Question T-chart will guide students while listening as they take notes on facts about bumblebees and the questions they have while listening to the audio story. (Sample responses: A. Hibernating bumblebees are all potential queen bees.  B. How do queen bees get the rest of the bees to make a colony in the spring?)

After Listening

  1. Reflect on the story:  

Ask students to respond to the listening comprehension questions and share their responses with a partner, small group, or the whole class.

  1. Why does Emma want to protect hibernating bumblebees?
  2. According to the story, what should you do if you find a hibernating bumblebee?
  3. Where do bumblebees live?
  4. What threats do bumblebees face?
  1. Classroom Discussion:

Take time for student reflection on the audio story. Use the classroom discussion questions to focus students on what bees need to thrive and what they can do to help the bees within their own yards or neighborhoods.

  1. How could you use what you learned in the story to build a bee habitat?
  2. How might you be able to help bumblebees in your own yard or neighborhood?

Next Step: Paired Text

Use the Ask Dr. Universe article on Where do bumble bees live? to pair with this audio story.

Ask students to compare and contrast the information they learned about bees from the audio story with the information they learn from the article.

Listen to the full podcast episode

Text materials provided by Listenwise

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