Why do flowers smell nice, Mummy? Teaching your child about bees

“Buzz, buzz, buzz…I wonder why they does?” mused Winnie-the-Pooh…

Did you know that generally, one out of every three bites of food you eat requires the little honeybee to make it to your plate?

Without bees, we’re all in big trouble. That’s why the recent decline in bee numbers and bee health worldwide is pretty alarming, and it’s something that our children really need to understand.

Recently when we were out hiking, Nate and I stopped to bury our noses in some beautiful spring blossoms. “Why do flowers smell nice, Mummy?” he asked.

Well, I answered, sweet-smelling flowers attract bees. The beautifully coloured petals help, too. Plants need bees to help them reproduce – that means, to make more plants. Just like we humans have families, plants have families, too. And considering how many plants we eat, we really need to make sure that they are reproducing well, so that there is more food for everyone, and the plant family survives.

winnie-the-pooh

“What do the bees do?” he wondered. “Do they sting the plants?”

No, I smiled. It’s an important process called pollination. When a bee smells a pretty scented flower, she flies over to it and drinks its nectar, which is delicious food for the bee. While she’s there, special flower dust called pollen sticks to her furry little legs. Then she flies to the next plant.

Did you know that there are boy plants and girl plants? When the bee spreads the pollen from a male plant to a female plant, that helps the plant to reproduce. It fertilises the plant, so that fruit containing seeds can develop. From those seeds, more plants can grow. That’s reproduction.

There are also other ways that plants pollinate, besides bees…some flower at night, with white, strong smelling flowers to attract nocturnal species like bats and moths, which also drink nectar and spread pollen. Some birds, like hummingbirds, and tuis, help spread pollen as they drink nectar, too. Some flowers which don’t smell much rely on the wind to spread their pollen. But bees are responsible for most of the work, and that’s why we need to protect them.

You know those raspberries, and watermelons you like so much? I continued. We wouldn’t have them without bees. There are thousands and thousands of things we eat which rely on bees and their clever pollination skills.

And we haven’t even mentioned the yummy honey that bees make, back in their hives! But that, my child, is another story…

 

 

 

 

 

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