ACTIVITIES AND EXPERIMENTS
Copyright 1997 by Janice D. Green
ARE THERE BEES IN YOUR CLOVER?
An easy way to find out if there are honeybees in your area is to look at the clover that is blooming in your yard. As soon as it warms up enough for your clover to bloom you can do the following simple test.
On a sunny day when the temperature is between 60 degrees and 95 degrees Farenheit, find the largest patch of blooming white clover you can find. It may be helpful to casually observe the clover for a day or so to determine the time of the day that it is most inviting to the bees. Even if you don't see bees, notice the time of day when other insects are flying around it the most. That will indicate the time of the best nectar flow. Mark off one square foot of ground with a string. (This should be a square that is one foot in length on each side.) Do not step inside the square you are marking it off as bees will be less likely to visit flowers that have been stepped on. It is important that blooming clover fill the entire square foot so the comparisons with other people's findings will be as equal as possible.
Next use another string to mark a boundary on one side of the square that is five feet away. Everyone should sit VERY QUIETLY behind this boundary so as to not scare the bees away. Using a stop watch or a watch with a second hand, count the number of bees that visit the square in three minutes.
Watermelons offer an excellent opportunity to examine and compare the effects of pollination on taste and size of fruit. Buy two or three watermelons of the same variety. Choose one that is very large and well rounded, one that is much smaller than the rest and preferably smaller on one end (be sure it is the same variety), and if a third is chosen, select a medium sized melon.
If you are doing this activity with a classroom or other
large group, divide the students so each group has one watermelon and have them carefully
count all the black seeds and all the white seeds. For each melon, divide the number of
black seeds by the total of all the seeds (white plus black), and multiply that number by
one hundred to learn the percent of seeds pollinated. Then eat the mellons and compare the
taste. Make a chart and/or graph to compare and illustrate your findings.
Buy a bag of small apples in the grocery store. Check to see what variety of apple it is (i.e. Jonathan, Rome, Granny, etc) and look for the SAME VARIETY of apple in large apples that you may select and purchase individually. Choose the most perfect apple you can buy and one that appears lopsided. At home compare and rank the apples in appearance and make notes on each. If you have appropriate scales, weigh each apple and include that information in your notes. Next, cut each apple open and count the seeds in each. Add this information to your notes. Then taste the apples and note which apples taste best and which taste worst. Draw your own conclusions about the effect pollination (the number of pollinated seeds) has on the taste of an apple.