Saturday, May 6, 2017

Floral Reproduction and Cuckoo Bees at Tupper

One of the advantages of having the science classroom so close to the art room at Tupper is we can take advantage of the tools in Ms. Krickan's class. We love this 3D model of the inside of a flower. Biologist Erin Udal introduces the concepts of plant reproduction: plant sex!!!!

It's important to understand the anatomy of the bee's face and tongue in order to understand how the flower fits the bee and the bee fits the flower.

Erin brings a collection of her locally sourced bees, flies, and wasps to study under the dissecting microscopes. Each student has a field book to record observations during this project.

This active classroom is also used for planting in the Tupper Greenway right outside the door.

How NOT to put a pinned insect under a microscope! You should hold it in your fingers or put it in a glob of silly putty, otherwise the yellow jacket will lose its delicate appendages.

This poster comes in handy to show the biodiversity of North American Bees. We also use their book Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America's Bees by Wilson and Carril. Plus we use another handy dandy book called Victory Gardens for Bees. (-;

Learning about the gender of plants and bees helps create insights into that complex and murky area of human gender and sexuality.

Just as finches developed morphology to feed in an evolutionary niche, bees also have different shapes of heads and tongues to fit into different guilds of flowers.

 Artist and gardener Catherine Shapiro gave a demo on creating paint from natural pigments.

Students personalized their field journals with collage.

These are the rich colors made with natural pigments.

Catherine shows a highly coveted  research book: Natural Colorants for Dyeing and Lake Pigments: Practical Recipes and their Historical Sources by Jo Kirby.

Bees on the line! Watercolor and fineliner paintings in progress.

The next day we looked at flowers under the scopes.

Ms. Krickan explains the dissecting tools to grade 8 art students. These are all flowers from my garden: rhododendrons, forget-me-nots, bluebells, dandelions, and bleeding hearts.

Students draw outside in the greenway, and inside as they look at flowers under the scopes.

I took them out to show the nesting sites and practise netting and releasing bees.

After class I spotted to species of cuckoo bees at another nesting site  which we'll have to check out next class. This is a nomada species.

This is a sphecodes cuckoo bee.  Now that the sweat bees have started their nests, these parasitic "wannabees" sneak in and lay their eggs in a true bee's nest.

Here's the narwhal of the fly world: Bombilidae spp.

Watch for these honey-bee sized andrena mining bees in the apple blossoms.

The dogwoods are blooming, but I hardly ever see insects in the blossoms. Let me know if you do!

And here's my first seasonal sighting of an escaped Eastern Bumblebee--a farmed bee from the greenhouse industry that is implicated in the collapse of Western Bumblebee populations.

Looking forward to three days of lessons next week!