Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Children's Museum of Memphis

Honey bee colonies are fascinating. Many consider the honey bee colony as an organism, not the individual bees; since individuals cannot survive alone. Honey bees only exist in colonies where they share responsibilities for food gathering, hive protection, care and feeding of the young bees and many other tasks. The colony even has a small number of bees devoted to reproducing the entire colony. These are the queen and the drones. The study of these fascinating social insects is an introduction into many of the natural sciences. I received a message today from a sixth grade student in Texas whose class is studying honey bees in school. Many of the readers of these blog posts are students from around the world who share an interest in the honey bee and an appreciation of the complex honey bee colony. One of the places that children are first exposed to honey bees is The Children’s Museum of Memphis. Peace Bee Farm has bee hives on exhibit where children can see the bees through large windows. In the picture you can see my hives and beekeeping truck dwarfed by the block letter “C” on the front of the museum. The honey bee exhibit is the idea of The Children’s Museum of Memphis’ Chief Executive Officer, Richard Hackett, a beekeeper himself. Mr. Hackett often interrupts his activity to look into the hives when I visit to inspect them.

While the honey bee is quite the subject of educational study, The Children’s Museum of Memphis accomplishes learning experiences through play and hands-on exhibits and programs. Children don a beekeeper’s veil to watch the honey bees through a glass window. The museum is currently hosting the world premiere of a traveling exhibit, “Harry’s Big Adventure: My Bug World!” My favorite part of the exhibit is a kitchen sink. When you open the cabinet doors, the sink is full of live cockroaches. Like the honey bees, they are safely housed behind glass. Follow museum activity at http://www.cmom.com/.

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