Outdoor Hour Challenge #27 Bees

Bees on the Lavender

“During many years naturalists have been studying the habits and adaptations of the honeybees, and, as yet, the story of their wonderful ways is not half told. Although we know fairly well what the bees do, yet we have no inkling of the processes which lead to a perfect government and management of the bee community; and even the beginner may discover things never known before about these fascinating little workers.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 391

We have lots of honeybees and bumblebees in our area of California. I love to watch them on my lavender plants and on my other garden flowers. I love to sit and let them buzz up right next to me so I can see them clearly. I have had a sting or two in my life but usually because I stepped on a bee in the grass with bare feet.

“The structure of honeycomb has been for ages admired by mathematicians, who have measured the angles of the cells and demonstrated the accurate manner in which the rhomb-shaped cell changes at its base to a three-faced pyramid; and have proved that, considering the material of construction, honeycomb exemplifies the strongest and most economic structure possible for the storing of liquid contents.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 395

I am fascinated with the geometry of the honeycomb and read with interest the section in the Handbook on honeycombs starting on page 395. Maybe it has something to do with my love for eating honey.

Outdoor Hour Challenge #27
Focus on Insects-Bees

(You may also like to look at the Yellow Jacket and Mud Dauber Challenge.)

1. This week read about bees in the Handbook of Nature Study, pages 384-400. There are sections on leaf-cutter bees, carpenter bees, bumblebees, and honeybees in the Handbook of Nature Study. You may not have every kind of bee in your location but I found the information very interesting and maybe someday I will have the opportunity to observe all the different kinds of bees discussed in the book. Remember our focus right now is on insects so if you don’t find a bee to observe, you can always look for other insects to study.

2. Your 15-20 minutes of outdoor time this week can be spent looking for insects. Make your goal just to get outside in your own backyard and find something to observe with your child. If during that time you find an insect, take as long as you can to describe what it looks like, what it is doing, and then try to come up with some questions to answer later with your Handbook of Nature Study or a field guide. If you find a bee to observe during your nature time or at another time during the week, use the opportunity to relate some facts from your reading in the Handbook of Nature Study.

Honeybee entry (3)

3. Give the opportunity for a nature journal entry. It might be hard to draw a bee from your outdoor time but it would be a great idea to find a photo of a bee online or use the diagram on page 391 to make an entry about bees in your journal. Another idea is to use a notebooking page and fill it in with your thoughts and observations from your Outdoor Hour time.

4. If you are keeping a running list of insects you have observed during this focus period, add the insect’s name to the list

You can find more insect challenges on the “insect” tab at the top of the website.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library


  1. We read something amusing…
    the handbook says “one hive should net the young beekeeper three to five dollars a year”!
    Hmmm…you would need alot of hives!

  2. okay, this is my first time with the outdoor hour, and I´m really excited to have found you! I have been really hit and miss with nature study and I just know that this was the missing element! the direction you give is priceless. I have your other blog on bloglines, but somehow I missed this one, I found you today, thanks to keri :)

    Trujillo, Peru

  3. I’m not sure if I left the link at the right post. I hope to catch my blog up to the challenges by the end of the week. Where should I leave the links?

  4. Just left a link and wanted to say thanks for the encouragement to get outside. My husband was filling in for me today and he loved doing the nature study.

  5. Yay! We’re back to doing nature study after a busy summer! Thanks for continuing to post these.

    We had a lot of fun on our nature walk today, although we didn’t find too many bees.

    I couldn’t shake the thought of Pooh Bear and the Bee Tree the whole afternoon, and so I wove it into my post on our nature walk.

  6. I read that bit about paying the beekeeper (that keri mentioned), and thought the same thing!
    We studies bees this week, but incorporated some other nature into our study as well. :-)

  7. We had so much fun outside this week… even though it was 95 each day. My daughter spent lots of time in the pool and part of the time I would hunt for bugs. :-) I always shared them with her when I found them.
    Anyway, I’m glad to be back to the challenges and hope this continues to grow! I’m looking forward to the cloud study as that’s something we haven’t studied very much… and I really haven’t photographed much, either.

  8. I haven’t done the challenges all summer but I’m jumping back in now and so glad to be back. This bees study was a fun one!

  9. Another challenge we have enjoyed. Henry loved this and knows so much about Bees now its great. We even followed up the challenge with honey on toast!!!

    Check out our blog entry:

    Thanks Barb

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Thanks Charlie-I added your link.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  12. Hi Barb,
    This week’s bees proved to be elusive at the week before’s butterflies. LOL! Oh well, we found some neat bugs anyway. Thanks again for providing these.

    Hope in MO

  13. We did a little study on carpenter bees but found it on pages 439-441 in our version of the handbook. Thanks for hosting the outdoor hour! I just love it!
    Brandy at Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

  14. I’ve also included a study we did on wasps. Thanks!

Add Your Comment