When you get invited to speak about honey bees and beekeeping for a third-grade audience, you better be well prepared. Children at this age are so inquisitive, and they offer up some of the best questions. Often their questions go straight to the heart of an issue. This was the case with the classes at Campus School on the campus of The University of Memphis. Many of the questions that the eight-year-old students asked me involved the loss of queen bees and queen bee management. Their questions could best be answered by L. L. Langstroth in his mid-1800s writings. Most beekeeping and bee biology writers today don’t dig into the hypothetical questions as deeply as some of those bright students at Campus School did.
My visit to Campus School was part of the students’ unit of study involving insects and honey bees. I asked them a few questions, and they asked me many. The students were well prepared for my visit. Of course, they all knew the number of segments in and insect’s body, the number of legs, the number of wings of a honey bee, the number of antennae. Those were easy questions for them. They enjoyed my tricking the teachers with a question about the number of eyes honey bees have. The teachers were not aware that there are five: two large compound eyes and three simple eyes on the top of the bee’s head. My demonstration was assisted by one of the students, here wearing protective equipment and holding a frame of bees. He smoked the hive and removed the frame with steady hands. No, those are not actual bees; that is a teaching hive with photographs of bees. I feel like both the students and the beekeeper learned about bees with this visit.