Bumblebees, which plants do you like best of all?
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About 250 species of bumblebee are found all over the world with more than 65 species in Europe. Bumblebees are familiar and popular insects and they are an appropriate object for research in connection with the both the animal and plant worlds. Some species of bumblebee are common while others are declining and with a survey of bumblebees students can also discuss human influence on biodiversity decline.
- To encourage students to survey their environment
- Students learn to use interactive identification keys
- Students observe plants and bumblebees carefully and distinguish species of both groups
- Students name and describe the most common bumblebees species and their food plants species of a certain area
- Students compare plant species diversity with bumblebee species diversity
- Students predict consequences of extinction of bumblebees
Primary, secondary and university level - it depends on size of survey area and dificulty of the identification keys used.
- Bumblebee identification keys
- Identification key for plants - search our database or ask for customized identification key
4 hours, but it depends on set objectives.
- Butterfly nets for collecting bumblebees
- small plastic transparent pots with a 4-5mm plastic mesh secured over the top with a rubber band
- magnifying glass (optional)
- computers with internet conection
- List of world bumblebees - notes on the worlds species, identification tools, articles about bumblebee vulnerability and conservation
- The Bumblebee Pages - about bumblebee species, their body, life and behaviour, how you can help bumblebees in your garden...
- Exact-Dryades-Quiz “The main characters of plant leaves”
- Prepare enough plastic transparent pots, pieces of net and rubber bands
- Students could make butterfly nets from old badminton rackets and net as homework or at technology class
- Check that you are familiar with plant and bumblebee identification keys and all terms used in them
- Reserve a computer classroom with online connection
- Students learn “main characters of plant leaves” with Exact-Dryades-Quiz
- Teacher explains how identification key works. The same plant is identified together by all students to get acquainted with the key.
- Students divide in groups of 4 (or 2 in case of university students). Every group gets at least one butterfly net and one pot (with small net and rubber band) for catching bumblebees.
- In the field one part of group try to catch bumblebee, other part of group pick up the plant where bumblebee was feeding.
- In school they identify plant and bumblebee. After identification bumblebee must be immediately released. Group continue with their work and they try to catch another one bumblebee.
- At the end all groups sumarize their results.
- If you don't have an appropriate place near the school to realise the activity, let students draw or take a photos of bumblebees on the field. They will identify them later in school with the help of drawings or photos.
- You can repeat the activity in different habitats to find out if is there any difference in number and species of bumblebees (e.g. dry/wet meadow, meadow/forest edge, natural meadow / hay field...).
- You can repeat activity in different seasons (spring, summer, autumn) and on different parts of a day (morning, noon, afternoon) and compare the results.