Bees receive a break as Sweet Springs students pollinate

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Sweet Springs Elementary fourth-graders take on a bee's work Thursday, Nov. 10, as they simulate collecting and transporting pollen at Blind Pony Lake using velcro strips wrapped around their knees and elbows. (Arron Hustead/Democrat-News)

The life of a bee is not one to be envied, Sweet Springs Elementary students agreed after experiencing the work of bees and other pollinators for themselves.

The bees received a day off as the fourth-grade class worked in their place Thursday, Nov. 10, at Blind Pony Lake, along with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Corner Covey chapter of Quail Forever. At different stations, students took turns identifying various pollen-producing plants and simulating the transfer of pollen using velcro strips attached to their arms and legs to pick up ping pong balls that represented the pollen. While enjoying themselves during collection bursts of 30 seconds to a minute, most students agreed they would not want to take on the job full time.

The students only got a small taste of the energy bees spend pollinating as they collect nectar to take back to their hives. Whereas they transported their ping pong balls a few feet away to a collection pile, bees will sometimes fly a mile or more away from the hive to gather what they need.

Fourth-grade students at Sweet Springs Elementary are dismayed when left with no ingredients to complete their ice cream sundae after all pollinator-reliant ingredients are taken away during pollinator project activities at Blind Pony Lake Thursday, Nov. 10. (Arron Hustead/Democrat-News)

At two other stations, the students discovered the importance of the work pollinators do. Students joyously took turns picking out ingredients to create an ice cream sundae, or a taco or burrito, only to be dismayed when ingredients that wouldn't be possible without the work of pollinators were taken away. Students building a sundae were shocked to be left with nothing after the pollinator-reliant ingredients were taken away while those building tacos and burritos were left with just a shell and meat.

The afternoon concluded as the would-be bees took steps to make life easier for their insect counterparts by adding to the pollinator patch grown by previous classes during the past two years. Several seedling plants, dubbed with such monikers as Johnny VI and Roberto IV, were planted not far from the lake, and then seeds were spread out across the remaining ground of the patch.

The added growth to the patch means nearby pollinators would not have to travel as far to collect nectar, allowing them to preserve energy for other tasks, such as building and maintaining their hives.

Fourth-grade students plant seedlings at Corner Covey chapter of Quail Forever and Sweet Springs Elementary pollinator patch at Blind Pony Lake Thursday, Nov. 10. (Arron Hustead/Democrat-News)

Contact Arron Hustead at ahustead@marshallnews.com

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