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Tags: Class Ideas, All-Seasons, Outdoor, Indoor, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, Bees

Time: 90 mins (Mix and match activities for a 30-40 min class or spread over two classes; activities can be adapted for different grades).

Author: The Bee Cause and Whole Kids Foundation (


Greeting and Intro to LessonStart in the usual way
(Teacher should prepare in advance by reading Life Stages Introduction
Alternatively, teacher can have students take turns reading intro in class.
Life Stages of the honey bee
Activity 1 (15 min)Life Cycle of a Bee
Distribute sets of life cycle cards to groups.
Have groups work with laminated cards to investigate the life cycles of bees.
Use models for instruction and allow students to pass around.
Materials: Five sets of laminated cards/ model of life cycle.
Life Cycle, Blank Worksheet
Activity 2 (5 min)Show 1 minute time-lapse video of life cycle.
It’s brief and worth showing, even if you normally avoid showing videos in class.
Life cycle of a worker bee
Life cycle diagram
Activity 3 (20 min)Act out the honey bee life cycle.
Students use cards and models to arrange order of life cycle.
Activity 4 (20 min)Bee Anatomy
Materials needed: Bee anatomy image copied for each student or group, dead bees
(if possible, optional), scotch tape, magnifying glasses, tweezers, and scissors
Handouts: Laminated image; Printable bee with parts labeled; Bee worksheet for students to label.
Anatomy In Brief
Body Parts Labeled (02d_LifeCycle_Activity4_AnatomyOfABee_labeled.pdf)
Body Parts blank (02d_LifeCycle_Activity4_AnatomyOfABee_blank.pdf)
Additional activitiesActivities can be used for journal prompts or discussion topics. 
Goodbye2-3 minutes to say goodbye
External ReferencesVideos are supplementary
Video of honey bees flying
Bee Bits Honey
Bee Landing Zone
(Please email the worksheet separately)
Life Cycle blank worksheet (02c_LifeCycle_Activity1_blankworksheet.pdf)
Life Cycle diagram (02c_LifeCycle_Activity1_lifecyclediagram.pdf)
Anatomy in Brief (02d_LifeCycle_Activity4_ho_AnatomyInBrief.pdf)
Body Parts Labeled (02d_LifeCycle_Activity4_AnatomyOfABee_labeled.pdf)
Body Parts blank (02d_LifeCycle_Activity4_AnatomyOfABee_blank.pdf)

It is a good idea to split the class into smaller groups and rotate activities, if possible.

ACTIVITY 1:Life Cycle of a Bee (02b_LifeCycle_Activity1and2)

1.    Pass out honey bee life cycle figures OR color copied, laminated life cycle stages to each group.

  • Ask students to hold up the figure or card that they believe is the first step in the life cycle (egg).

Hold up the egg and use the figures to demonstrate how the queen places her abdomen in the hive to lay one egg in each cell (can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day). Ask students why the queen lays less eggs in winter (less flowers so she doesn’t need as many worker bees).

  • Ask students to hold up the next step (larvae).

Hold up the larvae and explain that when you see a worker bee’s abdomen sticking out of a cell it is either cleaning the cell or feeding nectar and pollen to a baby bee larva.

  • Ask students to hold up the next step (pupa).

Hold up the pupa and explain that after the larva gets as big as the cell they close the cell and begin developing into an adult bee (wings, eyes, legs, and antennae). What does this remind you of? Butterflies changing from caterpillars into adult butterflies!

  • Ask students to hold up the last step (adult bee).

Hold up the adult and explain that after the bee is completely done metamorphosing they chew their way out of the cell and begin working!

3.    If there’s time, have students fill out life cycle of a bee worksheet:  02c_LifeCycle_LifeCycle_ho_blankworksheet

ACTIVITY 2: Time-lapse Video of life cycle.

1.    Show student time-lapse video of bee’s life cycle (1 minute). Remind them that this is fast forward and that it actually takes about 20 days for this entire process to happen.

ACTIVITY 3: Act Out Life Cycle of a Bee (02c_LifeCycle_Activity3.pdf)

1.    Act out the honey bee life cycle. Students begin as a tiny egg curled up on the classroom floor. Then they slowly curl out into a bee larva and pretend to eat pollen and nectar from nurse bees. Then they puff air in their cheeks and use their arms to show the larva getting bigger and bigger. As a pupa they develop wings, eyes, and antennae. Finally, as an adult bee, they stand up and chew their way out of the cell, stretching their wings and testing out their new legs.

2.    Students work in groups of four to put the life cycle figures in the correct order (#1 places the egg first, #2 places larva second, #3 places pupa third, and #4 places adult last).

ACTIVITY 4: Anatomy of a Bee (02d_AnatomyOfABee.pdf)

Note: For younger grades, the labeled diagram may be more useful than the detailed biology image. 

1.    If you have access to dead honey bees, tell students that they will dissect a honey bee today to learn more about the bee body.

  • Remind students that one of the worker bees jobs is to take the dead bees out of the hive and since bees only live six weeks there are a lot of dead bees under the entrance of the observation hive.
  • Give each student a dead bee and a magnifying glass. Ask students to use the magnifying glass to observe the outside of the bee.
  • What parts do they recognize? (head, thorax, abdomen, 6 legs, wings, antennae, 2 compound eyes, tongue sticking out).

2.    Ask students to stand up and sing, “Head, Thorax, Abdomen” to the tune of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”. Instead of “eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose” sing “compound eyes, antennae, and 6 legs”.

3.    Pass out the Bee Anatomy page and label the bee body parts as a group.

If you have dead bees, allow students to use tweezers and scissors to cut off the bee parts and tape them in the appropriate spot on the Bee Anatomy page. COMPLETELY cover the bee part with scotch tape to keep it from decomposing.

Note: Explain that it will be hard to get every single bee part because honey bees are so small. Encourage students to get the basic parts (head, thorax, abdomen, stinger, wings, tongue, and antennae).


1.    No Live Bees Required: use this link to observe a live feed bee hive. Compare body size, shape, and coloring. See if they can point out a worker and a drone. Ask students why some worker bees are larger than others (younger bees are smaller). Ask students why the coloring is not exactly the same on each worker bee (all have same queen as a mom but some have different dads). Teacher may also want to use resource links provided to have students label their own bee.

2.    Bee Journal Entry- Compare your body to a honey bee body. What is similar? What is different? Why? Include illustrations to accompany your writing.

3.    Bee Journal Entry- Beginning with the first step in the bee life cycle (egg), write how you feel during each stage of the life cycle if you were a honey bee. What changes are you undergoing? What do you feel like? What do you look like?

CLEANUP & GOODBYE (Include Cleanup and Goodbye)

  • Wrap up class in the usual way.


The Bee Cause:

Whole Kids Foundation

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