Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children
Post Number 19
ln my last post l was talking about compost heaps. My Auntie Alice has a very big garden around her cottage so she has a compost heap tucked away in a far corner of her back garden.
A river runs past the front of her house. ln the summer the river is at the bottom of the garden and in the winter the garden is at the bottom of the river.
So Auntie Alice only gardens at the back of her cottage which is on higher ground.
For Auntie Alice, one of the most important things in her garden is her flowers. She spends the autumn clearing and tidying up the garden. All winter planning what she is going to grow the following year. All spring digging and planting – and all summer enjoying it!
Auntie Alice has something else very interesting in her garden – bee hives.
Auntie Alice keeps honey bees and collects the honey they make. She puts the honey on toast and butter, in her lemon tea and uses it as an ice cream topping!
ln fact, she has so much honey she often gives it away to family and friends.
So it really is important for her to grow flowers in her garden that will give the bees lots to eat because not all flowers will do that.
Bees collect nectar from flowers and turn it into honey. Auntie Alice has honey bees in her hives but there are also big cuddly looking bees called bumble bees that come to visit the flowers in her garden.
Did you know there are around 25,000 species of bee world wide?
There are 267 species in Britain and about 4,000 in North America. These include the honey bee, bumble bees, leafcutter bees and mason bees.
Bees are very hard-working and clever. They can communicate with each other in ways we may not fully understand yet. Honey bees have what are called ‘scout bees’ who go and spy out the land. The scout bees might, for example, go and look for a new place for the swarm to set up home and come back and communicate their findings to the other bees by performing a special kind of wiggly dance with their bottoms. This dance is called a ‘waggle dance’.
The dance also tells their fellow bees about good places to find flowers. Bees can tell each other about the location (direction and distance) and even the quality of the flowers that they have found.
Honey bees commonly travel up to three miles away from their hive to collect nectar but have been known to travel up to seven or eight miles. That is a long way for little wings!
The bees that do all the work are girl bees. When they are young they do the housekeeping in the hive. They also look after the baby bees while they are in their cradles.
The babies are called larvae and the cradles are hexagon shaped – just the same as honeycombs.
When the worker bees are older, that is at two weeks old, they start to leave the hive to forage – for bees that means going out to collect pollen and nectar. They have little pollen baskets on the outside of each back leg. You can see them easily because they are bright yellow.
They use the pollen to feed their babies and nectar to make honey.
When bees have emptied a flower it takes time to recharge (just under two minutes) and during this time other bees won’t visit it. Scientists think that the flower sends out signals if it is empty for a while so the bees won’t have to waste their time.
The bees need the flowers but the flowers also need the bees; the bees will help the flowers to produce seed that will grow into more flowers.
Honey bees can visit up to 2,000 flowers in a day and 44,000 flowers in a lifetime.
Some bees act as guard bees. They stay by the front door of the hive making sure only the bees that belong to that colony are allowed in.
You may also be interested to know that there are reports that honey was found during the excavation of ancient Egyptian tombs. lt was many, many hundreds of years old and still edible! Honey probably has the longest use-by date of any food.
Of course beekeepers everywhere will tell you that the best honey to eat is fresh honey!
Humans have kept bees for honey for a long time; they have always liked sweet food. They also used the wax the bees made to seal their honey combs to make good-quality, smoke-free candles.
But did you know that there were no honey bees in America before the settlers took them there?
Auntie Alice grows lots of wild flowers in the orchard at the bottom of her garden, like yellow rattle, daisies, white clover and coltsfoot. But in her flower beds she grows hollyhocks, foxgloves, candytuft, honeysuckle, marigolds, lupins, zinnias and lots and lots of lavender. And all of these are good for bees.
Yellow rattle is especially important to plant in a wild flower meadow because it weakens the grass and so gives all the wild flowers a better chance to grow. lt is always the first flower that you should think about planting.
There are flowers on herbs that bees like to visit as well, especially mint, rosemary and thyme.
lf you buy plants or packets of seeds in shops and garden centres, they very often have a picture of a bee on the label or packet so that you can know which ones to grow to feed bees.
Bees help us a lot too because they pollinate fruit trees and a lot of other crops; in fact 84% of Europe’s crops.
As bees work, they collect pollen on their bodies. They then carry this pollen from one flower to another.
Pollen looks like yellow powder. lf you touch the centre of a flower you will probably get some on the end of your finger. Some pollen can be other colours as well.
Moving pollen between flowers will make fruit or seeds grow out of the flower as the summer progresses.
lf you have heard of the recent plight of the bumble bees then you might already be trying to help them.
Basically, they are starving.
😥 😥 😥
They need more food and we can help them by growing more bee-friendly flowers. Bees need things to eat through the whole length of the summer.
We help bees and they help us – so it is a good friendship!
Are you doing things to try and help bees?
Bye bye everyone – don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!
Love and kisses
Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Week
Bill: Why was the bee’s hair so sticky?
Bob: l don’t know. Why was the bee’s hair so sticky?
Bill: Because he had combed it with a honey comb!
Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2008
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.
Links may be used to www.christina-sinclair.com
A bumble bee is plump and furry
A honey bee is streamlined, smooth and shiny
A bee in flight
Leaf cutter bees use little pieces of leaf to line their nests
A leaf cutter bee
Mason bees sometimes bore holes in wood to make their homes
Honeycomb – the honey is sealed into the chambers with bee-made wax
A bee in a daffodil in late March
Bumble bees are plumper than honey bees
Lamb’s ears are lovely and soft
The down from the top of the leaf can be collected by a wool carder bee to line her nest
A wool carder bee is a solitary bee – that means it lives alone
Crab apple blossom in the spring
Almond blossom in the spring
Pollinated blossom begins to grow into fruits – these are cherries
A field of daisies
Bees love green alkanet flowers
Most wild flowers will attract bees
Bees love foxgloves – these flowers seed themselves easily and will grow in shady corners
There are different types of bumble bee – they have different shaped bodies and coloured bands on them – they all like the warmth of the sun
Throughout history beehives for honey bees were made from straw
They are different shapes in different parts of the world
Now they can be made from wood
Honey bees live closely together and work as one community
There is no hierarchy – that means nobody is in charge but every bee knows what they must do for the colony in the hive to be successful
Bees move pollen around as they work
Flower pollen is produced on the anthers and transferred to the stigma
The stigma in the centre of the flower will grow into a fruit or vegetable or seed pod
THE SALTY SAM NEWS DESK
The Royal Horticultural Society launched a campaign in 2011 called the ‘Get Your Garden Buzzing Campaign’.
It has worked really well with people all over the country planting more nectar-rich flowers in their gardens.
More wild flowers have also been planted. These do well in poor soils and can look after themselves when planted in places that are not tended regularly by gardeners.
There are lots of wild flowers that you can grow from seeds or plugs. Plants like scabious, knapweed, oxeye daisy, wild carrot, cowslips and rough hawkbit – and of course always yellow rattle.
With 98% of our wild flower meadows gone, it needs people to keep planting these kinds of flowers to stop them from disappearing altogether.
The Kew Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex is attempting to collect seeds from every plant species that exists in the world to make sure that no plant should ever become extinct. They already have all the British natives.
They have an underground bunker where the seeds are kept at up to -20°c. It is like keeping them fresh in a big freezer. But it doesn’t mean to say that people everywhere can’t do their bit to stop wild flowers meadows from becoming extinct as well.
Pollen from trees also provides bees with a lot of food in the spring time. You may not have noticed flowers on trees before. This is because they are usually very small and green and come out when the leaves are sprouting. They do look different from the leaves but you have to look into the branches very carefully to see them.
Some flowers like the ones on the hawthorn tree are very visible.
It doesn’t matter whether you live in the countryside or the town you will be able to find some.
Hazel and willow are two of the earliest trees to provide nectar at the end of the winter.
Pussy willow catkins
Many tree flowers are not very obvious – like the ones on this maple tree
The flowers are not easy to see because they are the same colour as the sprouting leaves
The flowers on this maple tree can be seen if you look very closely
Within a couple of weeks the flowers drop and the seeds begin to form
They are now the recognizable shapes of maple seeds
These flowers are on a maple tree too but they are a different shape
A month later the flowers are turning into seeds
In autumn they become brown and dry and blow away
The flowers on a weeping willow are long and curly
The flowers come out in April
Whitebeams have white flowers that will turn into berries
They are green then turn yellow then red
The tree seeds are inside the berries
The berries stay on the tree ripening even after the leaves fall in autumn
Hawthorn flowers come out at the end of April/beginning of May
The buds in the photograph above and the flowers in this photograph were on the same tree the photographs were taken at the same time
but the buds were on a branch in the shade for most of the day
and the developed flowers were on a branch in the sun for most of the day
The white flowers have become red berries by the end of the summer
Horse chestnut blossom is very obvious and will grow into conkers
When parks and verges are left uncut
bees have a chance to feed from the flowers that grow in the grass
These are daisies and dandelions
Trying to reduce pollution is also important for bees. Scientists have quite recently carried out studies that show that air pollution masks the scents given out by flowers hampering the bees in their quest to find them.
Planting trees helps to clean air because they ‘eat’ pollution. In fact, a young tree ‘eats’ more pollution than a fully grown one.
The RHS also has a gardening campaign for schools helping with ideas and support.
You can find out more about how you can help bees on their website.
Have you ever walked along a street and looked into the front gardens and seen nothing but evergreen shrubs? These are easy for people to look after when they have busy lives and don’t have much time to work in their gardens.
Just the addition of one lavender bush or one ceanothus bush would be something that bees would love to collect nectar from and yet it doesn’t take a lot of work to look after them.
In fact, both these plants do quite well in dry soils.
You don’t have to live in the countryside to have bee hives. There are now many roof-top hives in cities; some are in very unexpected places.
There are hives on the roof of the famous food shop Fortnum and Mason in London, Manchester Cathedral and there are over 10 million bees living on the roof tops of New York.
If you would like to find more information about how to help bees, you can go to:-
If you would actually like to become a beekeeper, there is advice about keeping your own bees at:
And an interesting video at:
If you would like to see some pictures of flowers and learn their names, have a look at my Flowers Pinboard at:
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(Don’t worry the bees have a door to get in and out of this hive! )
lf you live in London, you can pop along and take a look and buy honey that the bees have made.
93 Northcote Road, London, SW11 6PL
What do these sentences mean?
- He had a bee in his bonnet about it.
- She made a bee-line to the shop.
- He thought she was the bee’s knees.
- She was as busy as a bee.
BLOW MY FOGHORN!!!
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lt’s the Weekend!
HOW TO MAKE MY BUSY BEE HAT
This week I have another knitting pattern for you – a bee hat. Of course if you think this design would look better on your head, you could always adapt another pattern which would fit you.
BEE HAT (KNIT TWO PIECES THE SAME)
Using 3½mm knitting needles and brown dk yarn cast on 40 stitches
K3 (p2, k2) repeat last 4sts until 3sts remain k3
P3 (k2, p2) repeat last 4sts until 3sts remain p3
Repeat last 2 rows 3 times (8 rows ribbing)
Change to 4mm knitting needles
Stocking stitch 8 rows starting with a knit row
Decreasing 1 st at the beginning of the next 16 rows continue as follows:-
Using yellow dk yarn knit 4 rows (garter stitch)
Using brown dk yarn stocking stitch 4 rows starting with a knit row
Repeat the last 8 rows once (24sts)
Continue in stocking stitch using brown dk yarn only decreasing 1 st each end of the next 8 rows (8sts)
Cast off leaving a 20 cm tail
TO MAKE UP
Chain stitch on some antennae with French knots at the end in white yarn.
Sew on some black and white felt eyes (just secure them with a French knot in white sewing thread on each eye and this will become the shine in the bee’s pupil).
Sew up side seams of hat and finish with a yellow pompom.
(Instructions for making a pompom can be found on
On my blog next week some busy bee mittens to match!
Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use or for use in classrooms only.
It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.
Use of the toys and projects on all of these blogs is at your own risk.
©Christina Sinclair Designs 2008
Salty Sam says never kill bees
Quick Quiz Answers
- He kept talking about the subject.
- She went straight there.
- He thought that she was very special.
- She was very busy.
A bee hive hairstyle
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