“Bee”ginning Inquiry Part 1

The Provocation

After many years of marriage my husband realizes that any trip outside the house might result in bringing home something that will inevitably end up in my classroom.  Generally a trip to Costco is pretty safe.  I might come home with a few books for the classroom library.  A few weeks ago, however, we came home with a bee house.



I took off the label and took it into the classroom.  I set it on the desk at the front of the classroom.  When the students came in the next day I asked them to write about what they thought it was used for and I got quite a few different answers.


 Made with Popplet

When they came to the conclusion that it was indeed a “bee house” for non-stinging, solitary bees; the students then began asking questions and the biggest, burning question was, “Why do bees need houses?”  Why indeed?  I suppose we’ll have to find that out!  I am not an entomologist.  This is new territory for me but I was interested in the whole “Save the Bees” movement myself.  Knowing that this provocation would quite like lead to a burning question for inquiry, I had already created a Padlet with all kinds of links to videos that were relevant and that I had screened and removed advertising.  You can purify videos using a website called Pureview .  Of course, this was only the beginning.


One of the websites included an article about a local researcher; Susan Chan.  We went about contacting Susan to ask a few questions but as inquiries often take a life of their own; it got much bigger!  Susan offered to come in so the students could make their own bee houses.  So my husband and I were off to the local ditches to find and cut the plants needed for the task.  My husband knows not to ask questions when I say things like; “I need to go and find and cut some grass that grows near swampy areas in ditches.”  He is a committed husband of an elementary teacher.



After a few hours, we had enough for each student to make their own home for a non-stinging solitary bee.  Likely, a mason bee.  It didn’t take them long to make and it made them feel as though they were really doing something to help save some non-stinging native bees.



The students were thrilled with their bee homes for solitary mason bees.  They took them home and hung them up in their backyards with the instructions to take photos so we could post them on Twitter and Seesaw.  However, the students didn’t think it was enough to make 20 bee homes.  They had much more planned.  Stay tuned for part two of our quest to “Save the Bees.”


Updated: March 30, 2018 — 7:33 pm

The Author

Michelle Fenn

I am a teacher with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and I have been teaching for over 20 years. I am an Instructional Leadership Consultant with the portfolios of Innovations and NTIP. I have the privilege of working with new teachers and their mentors as well as helping teachers develop 21st Century learning competencies with their students. When I grow up I want to be Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus.

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