Lesson Plan

Day 3 of Biodiversity Bee Week: The Importance of Pollinators

A ruby throated hummingbird drinks nectar from a cardinal flower.

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Subject:
Math,Science
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Additional Standards:
Next Generation Science Standards:
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans (MS-LS2-5)
LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience (MS-LS2-4)
LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems (MS-LS2-1)
Thinking Skills:
Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience.

Objective

What is a pollinator?

Students will
• identify different pollinators
• explain the importance of pollinators in the environment
• calculate the amount of time and work it takes to be a pollinator

Background

In the mid to late 2000’s, beekeepers noticed a problem with their bees. Bees were leaving the hives during the day and not returning. Their hives were not thriving. Thousands of bees were dying, threatening the livelihood of many beekeepers and the pollination of thousands of plants, including crops upon which we rely for food. Scientists investigated the die-off of the bees, calling the problem “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD). Unsure of the cause(s), scientists collected data on the numbers of bees being lost each year. The numbers were staggering: 2006-07 saw a 32 percent decline in bee numbers, 2007-08 saw a 36 percent decline in bee numbers, and 2008-09 saw a 29 percent decline in bee numbers. There has been an overall decline or leveling off in the percent of bee losses through the years, with the losses at 23.2 percent for winter 2013-14. Beekeepers consider 18.9 percent as a level that is acceptable for bee loss each year in order to sustain their populations (Kaplan, 2014).

We are dependent upon bees for our own survival. Members of the Apidae family (honeybees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, etc…) are the “pollinators of the agricultural world.” Bees are vital to the health of our food supply and also wild plant pollination. Their bodies are covered with hair which allows them to pick up pollen and transfer it from plant to plant to promote pollination. Bees are responsible for pollinating one third of the food that we consume on a daily basis; their loss would mean that our food supply would be dramatically reduced. Also, pollinators are very important for maintaining and creating our wild plant populations, basic habitat for wildlife, and to support crops that feed grazing animals, such as cows (Michigan, 2014; Tucker, 2014).

Currently, bee decline appears to have leveled off, but the causes still remain unknown. There are many theories about the reasons for the decline in bee populations. Ideas include global warming, causing flowers to bloom at different times; loss of habitat and diversity in pollen sources due to development; pesticide use on farms; parasites, such as mites; or perhaps a combination of these factors (Sass, 2011).

This one-week module is designed to expose middle-school students to the issue of Colony Collapse Disorder and to give them background knowledge to help understand this problem. Knowledge is the first step towards understanding and becoming an agent of change to help solve this problem.

Preparation

Download lesson plan, then print out and copy the worksheet for each student.

Materials

Students will learn about different pollinators and their importance to the survival of many other living organisms.

Download Day 3 Worksheet: The Importance of Pollinators

This answer key will help you work through the calculations on the worksheet

Download Day 3 Answer Key: The Importance of Pollinators

This powerpoint helps students learn about and focus on pollinators and their importance to the survival of food crops and wild plants. The slide show focuses briefly on pollinators in general and then highlights bees. The powerpoint exposes students to the current problem of Colony Collapse Disorder affecting bee populations across the nation.

Download Day 3: Importance of Pollinators Power Point (saved as PDF)

Printer-friendly lesson plans for all days of Biodiversity Bee Week (a middle school curriculum and activity guide for Bee Awareness).

Download Biodiversity Bee Week Curriculum

Lesson Hook/Preview

Why do we care about entomophily?

Instructor will put this question on the board: Why do we care about entomophily? Instructor will lead a classroom discussion to help students break down the word into its word parts, allowing students to discover the word’s meaning and answer the question. Here is the entry from the Botany Word of the Day to help with understanding the meaning of entomophily:

       “Entomophily en’to-mof-il’e n.              Entomophilous en’to-mof’i-lus

(Gr. entomos: insect, philos: friend, loved)
Pollination by insects. Including wasps, bees, ants, beetles, moths, butterflies, crickets and flies amongst others. An entomophilous flower has adaptions that encourage pollination by insects. The flowers are actinomorphic and crowded together. This arrangement allows insects the ability to enter the flower from any direction and encourages the easy spread of pollen.”

Procedure

1.    The Importance of Pollinators. This presentation (saved as PDF) helps students learn about and focus on pollinators and their importance to the survival of food crops and wild plants. The slide show focuses briefly on pollinators in general and then highlights bees. The powerpoint exposes students to the current problem of Colony Collapse Disorder affecting bee populations across the nation.

2.    Activity: Field of Plants. How long does it take humans to pollinate a field? Using basic math skills, this activity challenges students to calculate how long it would take for humans to pollinate plants (in this case, almond trees) in place of bees. Along with a worksheet for the students, a key gives possible answers for the activity.

3.    Follow-Up Reading to Activity. “Honey Bees Are More Effective At Pollinating Almonds When Other Species Of Bees Are Present”.  This article further emphasizes that bees are more efficient at pollinating than humans.  

Vocabulary

entomophily, pollinator

Assessment Materials

Tweet #importanceofbees

As their ticket out the door, students will “tweet” about the importance of bees using 140 characters or less.

Additional Resources

Download the lesson plan for additional resources and links.

For other education resources, webcasts, and webinars, Pollinator LIVE: a distance learning adventure is a great website, and is sponsored by federal and private partners. 

Related Lessons or Education Materials

This is Day 3 of 5 in the Biodiversity Bee Week curriculum for middle school students.

Contact Information

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Last updated: June 30, 2015