ITEEA The Elementary STEM Journal, Vol. 24, Issue 4
PublisherInternational Technology and Engineering Educators Association, Reston, VA
ReleasedMay 1, 2020
The Elementary STEM Journal, Volume 24, Issue 4 - May, 2020

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Article - Honeybees and Humans – An Interconnected Existence


Honeybees and Humans – An Interconnected Existence 
by Isma-ae Chelong, Johnny J Moye, DTE, and Cory M. Madison

Most people love honeybees. These cute little creatures are one of the most recognized insects in the world.

Teachers, students, and parents will enjoy learning how we humans and honeybees depend on each other and share many similarities. One example is that we work together to help each other. Using a honeybee theme, an elementary teacher can easily present students with lessons and activities using an integrative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics approach.

Providing an activity and supporting information, this is the final of a series of articles focusing on a honeybee-themed elementary classroom. Moye and Madison (2019) provided 3rd to 5th grade teachers with the background information needed to formulate a theme that could be used for a single lesson or for an entire school year. The second article (Moye, Chelong, and Madison, 2020) presented examples of specific science, mathematics, social studies, and English language arts standards that could be integrated into honeybee-themed lessons. Teachers can use one or more of the three articles to formulate lessons and activities. These articles contain but a small portion of possible integrative STEM opportunities teachers could explore and use. The more familiar teachers are with the world of honeybees, the more apparent it is how we can use that information to compare them to the world of human beings. Our existence with this insect is very interconnected.

lesson overview

All creatures on earth have their role to support their life and the lives of others. We humans must work with each other and with nature in order for our world to sustain life. It is easy to compare the lives of humans and honeybees. Living in colonies, honeybees work extremely well together. Every bee has a mission in life—to support their colony. When they are very young they help feed the babies and keep the beehive clean. When they are old enough to go out on their own, they become foraging bees and leave the colony to collect food to support their family.

A human colony is our home, where our family lives. We have the same responsibilities as honeybees. When we are young, we learn that we must clean our rooms and help around the house. Helping sometimes means taking care of the babies (like younger bees). Once we get older, we learn how to survive on our own. Survival depends on food, so as adults we must learn how to work to support our family in our own home. It is wonderful how well we work together. Like honeybees, we learn what is expected of us and do it without having to be told. Of course, no human or honeybee is perfect. We make mistakes but try hard to do the best we can to help the others in our family. And we depend on our family to help us, too.


Honeybees live in colonies. A colony could be located in a tree or in a hive used by beekeepers to raise bees. No matter where honeybees live, they create hexagonally shaped cells to raise their brood (baby bees) and to store their food. Bees eat honey and pollen for energy and protein. They collect their food from trees and flowering plants. Bees provide a very important function as they fly from plant to plant. They pollinate plants as they gather nectar and pollen. Plants must be pollinated in order to survive. Pollination is a critical function in our ecosystem. It would be detrimental if bees did not pollinate the plants that we humans and other life need to survive.

Today you will act as one of the thousands of honeybees in a colony. Your first job will be to create hexagonally shaped honeycomb. Once you complete the three hexagonal shapes in your worksheet, you are to take your pollen and nectar (colored pencils) and go to other parts in the colony (other students’ worksheets) and place your nectar and pollen in those cells. Remember, honeybees work quickly and efficiently to fill all the hexagonal cells with pollen and nectar. You must work fast so you will have enough food to eat during the cold winter months when no (or very few) flowering plants are available.

lesson goal

The goal for this lesson and activity is to support the idea that each of us has responsibilities. Like honeybees, we are expected to do our part. In society, parents, siblings, teachers, and our community depend on each person to know what is expected of them and for them to do their best in meeting those expectations.

Bee8-300-med.jpgUsing honeybees as an example, this lesson will introduce students to the pollination process and why pollination is necessary to sustain life on earth. It will also address collaboration between students to ensure that their colony (the classroom) is being taken care of and will provide the food necessary for the upcoming winter months. Teachers will reinforce acceptable cultural norms and explain that each of us are individuals but depend on each other.

student learning objectives

Students will learn:

-      The necessity of cooperation and teamwork with others. The speed of working in teams is similar to bees.

-      What a hexagonal shape is and why it is the strongest and most practical shape bees use in the hive.

-      What pollen is, why pollination is important, why pollen from different plants is different colors.


The colony must be built and filled with food. There is so much work to do. To survive, everyone needs to help. Students are to act as bees. They must first build their honeycomb so they have a place to store food in the hive. Once the comb is available, foraging honeybees must fly from plant to plant, collecting nectar and pollen, and take it back to the colony to store for future food.

Standards Addressed


NGSS 3-LS2-1: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics. Construct an argument that some animals form groups that help members survive.

Technology and Engineering

STEL–1A: Compare the natural world and human-made world.


CCSS.Math.Content.3.MD.D.8: Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving perimeters of polygons, including finding the perimeter given the side lengths, finding an unknown side length, and exhibiting rectangles with the same perimeter and different areas or with the same area and different perimeters.

Social Studies

NCSS-Early Grades-Culture-1: Culture refers to the behaviors, beliefs, values, traditions, institutions, and ways of living together as a group of people.

English Language Arts

CCSS.ELA.Literacy.W.3.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequence.


Worksheet, metric ruler, and colored pencils.


Following the examples provided in the worksheet, students will draw at least three hexagon shapes on the worksheet. Using colored pencils, students will go to different classmates’ honeycomb and fill one of their cells with a color representing pollen. Students may use any color they prefer.


Pollen Identification:

Linear Measurement Information:


Ask students to critically analyze the questions on page 2 of the worksheet. If time permits at the end of the class session, the teacher could encourage discussion about what students learned about honeybees, pollination, benefits and disadvantages, teamwork, etc.

This activity will help students learn about life and how we humans are so connected, and dependent upon, plant and animal interaction.


International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA). (2020). Standards for technological and engineering literacy: The role of technology and engineering in STEM  education. Reston, VA: Author (in progress).

Moye, J. J & Madison, C. M. (2019). The amazing world of honeybees. The Elementary STEM Journal 24(2), 26-28.

Moye, J. J, Chelong, I. A., Madison, C. M. (2020). We and the honeybee: An integrative STEM-themed primer. The Elementary STEM Journal 24(3), 31-35.

National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). (2006). National standards for social studies teachers. Silver Spring, MD: Author.

NGSS Lead States (NGSS). (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.


Annotation 2020-04-21 122925.pngNOTE: The worksheet for this article is online at:


Isma-ae Chelong, Ph.D, Plant Science, is an assistant professor of science technology and agriculture at the Yala Rajabhat University in Yala, Thailand. Producing innovative technology, he currently conducts research on the stingless bee project. Isma-ae can be reached at

Johnny J Moye, Ph.D., DTE, serves as ITEEA Senior Fellow. He is a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, a former high school technology teacher, and a retired school division CTE Supervisor. Johnny can be reached at

Cory M. Madison is an Operations Crew Supervisor at Louisville Gas and Electric Company. He’s a parent of two boys, ages five and eight, who love the outdoors. Cory can be reached at