From their earliest years, children are capable of directing their own learning. They already possess the ability to explore and question, to forge connections, to figure things out independently. Our expert teachers, specifically trained for the developmental needs of the age-group they teach, guide and nurture children’s natural fascination and curiosity. With the skilled direction of teachers, and the chance to act as both learner and instructor in mixed-age classrooms, children pursue each study wholeheartedly — continuously mastering the academic, social, and emotional lessons within each subject.
So while they may be conducting a research project about honey bees, they’re also learning the intricate systems of small insects, deciphering the communication patterns of a bee hive, contemplating the geometry of a honeycomb, harvesting honey from the school’s very own bee swarm, and discussing global implications of bee pollination. They’re learning that every creature large or small plays a part in the grand scheme and how they fit into that picture. No matter if it’s botany, biology, algebra, or entomology — they’re learning so much more than math. At MSR, they’re conceptualizing and appreciating nature’s fascinating lessons.
Select your child’s age from the timeline to learn how MSR engages his developmental level.
A bee’s body has a lot in common with the bodies of other insects. Much of it is covered in an exoskeleton made from small, movable plates of chitin. A bee’s body is also covered in lots of fuzzy, branched hair, which collects pollen and helps regulate body temperature. The body also has three sections — the head, the thorax and the abdomen .
The head houses the brain, a collection of about 950,000 neurons. These neurons are specialized, and they communicate with specific neighboring neurons. This division of tasks is part of why a bee’s brain, which is a fraction of the size of the bee’s head, can perform complex tasks that might ordinarily require a bigger brain. A system of nerves allows the brain to communicate with the rest of the body.
A bee has two sensory antennae. It also has five eyes — three simple eyes, or ocelli, and two compound eyes.
The compound eyes are made of lots of small, repeating eye parts called ommatidia. In each compound eye, about 150 ommatidia specialize in seeing patterns. This allows bees to detect polarized light — something human beings cannot do.
Like most insects, a bee has complex mouthparts that it uses to eat and drink. The sizes and shapes of these parts can vary from species to species, but in general, most have a pair of mandibles, or jaws, a glossa, or tongue, a labrum and two maxillae.
The labrum and maxillae are like lips. They support a proboscis, or tube for collecting nectar.
A bee’s two pairs of wings and three pairs of legs connect to its thorax. The wings are extremely thin pieces of the bee’s skeleton. In many species, the forewings are larger than the hindwings. A row of hooks called hamuli connect the front and rear wings so they beat together when the bee is flying.
A bee’s legs can also have several specialized structures, including:
• Spindle hairs for collecting pollen
• A pad and claw for holding and manipulating objects
• A small groove for removing pollen from the antenna
• A press for packing pollen
The abdomen has almost no appendages, but it houses nearly all of the bee’s internal organs. Passageways called spiracules allow the bee to breathe, and a network of tubes and tracheae carry oxygen into the bee’s body. An aorta in the thorax pumps blood, or hemolymph, directly over the organs rather than through a system of vessels. Oxygen floats in the hemolymph without the use of red blood cells, so the fluid is colorless instead of red. The abdomen also holds a tube-like digestive system that includes a crop, or honey stomach, where the bee holds nectar.
This is just a look at the anatomy of the honey bee. We encourage you to learn more about honey bees and honey by doing some research of your own. Be curious, be adventurous, be a learner! Now that you have discovered a little about the amazing honey bee, let’s see what amazing experiments we can do by visiting THE BEE LAB!