Bees and Citizenship

" Do not keep the children day after day repeating what they already know;  give them something new to call forth new interest and wonder." -R. Durning

On a rainy day last week, the children and I visited the Buller farm to learn all about beekeeping.   Mr. Buller is a second generation beekeeper and works 180 hives.  It was a delightful and informative time, culminating with a homemade honey punch and take-home honey samples. I was surprised to learn how labor intensive an apiarist's job is and I don't think we will be keeping bees any time soon! Before we went, we read a book on bees and have been observing bees every chance we get.  How can you not be in awe of these creatures?  We are.  Not only that, but the kids can easily spot the inaccuracies in the Bee Movie. (!)

While doing research on Charlotte Mason's view of citizenship, I stumbled across this Parents' Review article by Robert Durning titled, "Characteristics of Childhood."  In it, he gives a  Handbook of Nature Study-esque lesson on bees.  He suggests that lessons be given on the bee as an architect or on the government of the hive as a symbol of citizenship!  What a great jumping-off point for further discussion on this topic with children.  Mason talks about  characteristics of a good citizen - singleness of purpose, absence of self-consciousness and absolute attention.  All of these  are easily observed and illustrated in the bee hive.

Here are Mr. Durning's suggestions for a lesson on bees.  Enjoy!

One of three or four points may be selected in giving a lesson on the bee.

I.  We may take the bee as distinguished from other insects; consider:

  A. Its (special) habits.
  B. Its mode of working.
  C. The organ with which it works.

II. We may take the bee as an example of an insect, to show how they are distinguished from other animals; consider:

  A.  Its principle parts
  B.  The different stages of life. We may take the bee as an example of industry:

    1. Compare the habits of the bee with those of the butterfly, with reference as to different periods of the year.
    2. Lead the children to draw an inference as to the future destiny of man.

III. We may take the bee to show the distinction between instinct and intellect:

 A.  Compare a honeycomb with the house in which the children are-the cells alike, the rooms different.
 B.  Compare several honeycombs with houses known to the children. Houses differ-all cells are alike.
 C.  Lastly, compare the work of the insects at different periods with the work of man-the former never varies, the latter improves by practice, and imitation of the work of others.


  1. Nancy, how neat your visit and the follow up lesson.

  2. Very fun. Hey, I am seriously thinking we might be coming to the LER in July! A friend is interested, and we will bring our big girls. I am hoping it all works out. Can't wait!

  3. @ Pam - NO WAY!!! That would be so great! We are almost 1/2 full. The post before this one, on the LER, will hit the state homeschool newsletter in about 2 weeks and I'm sure we'll fill up fast once that is out there. Just an FYI! Keep me posted on your plans - I assume you'd try to arrive on Thursday night?

  4. Nancy, do you know if there's anyone going to the retreat from Michigan? My friend may not be able to go,so I can't reserve til I know a plan B. Sharing a ride would help both parties.

  5. Nancy, there is a lovely DVD we rented from the library called City of Bees. It was about some Scandinavian children who visited a bee keeper and it was so beautifully done. We watched it in our year one co-op and the moms liked it as much as if not more than our children!

  6. Nancy, my friend can go with me, so we are sending the money tomorrow. I have a question about the lodging. Can you email me at ajoyfulmoc@gmail.com and let me know what kind of lodging it is, and if we pay for 4 (there are twe adults, and two girls (12 years old).) Is it a large group area, or individual rooms? Would my friend and I be together?

  7. Nancy,

    Looking forward to seeing you very soon. I have lots to read on your blog :)

  8. @jmtinsd - Thanks - I've ordered the dvd through the library!
    @Amber - I've been crazy busy, so the blog hasn't been kept up. I hope to start writing again after NC. Looking forward to seeing you, too. I want to hear your Berry talk, but I believe I'm talking at the same time. Bummer.
    @ Pam - So happy it has all worked out. Looking forward to seeing you in MN!

  9. And, most important of all... they make honey!! :)

    Definitely a fun way to think about society. Did you know that ants have been known to abandon their colony-territorial ways to preserve their societies? (On to the lesson about global cooperation... ;-)