Mellow Mummy: Talking 'Bees' With Preschoolers and Disney's the Hive : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Talking 'Bees' With Preschoolers and Disney's the Hive

Disney’s The Hive toys have teamed up with bee charity Adopt-a-Hive in a brand new campaign to raise awareness for the plight of wild bees in the UK. Together with the popularity of this favourite Disney TV programme, the campaign will be gaining support for wild bees and educating children and families about how they can help the issue.  Recently I was given the opportunity to interview Tony Gray (an expert in all things Bee) about how we can get our children involved in the campaign.

Disney's The Hive Playset

Me: My daughter loves to spend time planting vegetables in the garden but this year she has asked to grow some flowers (Fine by me because flowers attract insects who help to pollinate the vegetables!) – what flowers would you recommend for a preschooler to plant if she wants to invite bees into our garden?

Tony Gray: I would suggest open flowers such as French marigolds and Foxgloves. They are really easy to grow, bees love them and they flower for a long time. Thyme and Marjoram are also very good because not only do the bees love them but you can use these herbs in your cooking too! Why not get your daughter to find out which flowers bloom every month of the year and plant those. It’s fun to discover each month but is also a challenging task!

Me: How would you reason with an angry four year old who thinks that bees are frightening?

Tony Gray: Explain to your daughter that without them there wouldn’t be any fruit, apples, pears, strawberries or raspberries. However, it’s not a bad idea if children have a healthy respect for bees and don’t just grab them – they will sting if this happens. The trick is to look but don’t touch!

Explain to your daughter how the bees find flowers by doing the ‘waggle dance’. The number of waggles they do is the distance and the angle that they cut across the circle of the flower to line up with the angle of the sun. Your daughter will also be interested to know that bees have five eyes, one of which can see polarised light, and even when it’s cloudy.

Children of four are just starting to discover things so encourage them in their exploration. An interesting fact for little ones is that it takes 50,000 trips to a flower to make a jar of honey. Finally, my advice is to try to not be frightened yourself when bees are buzzing around as this will make children scared also!

Me: Are bees really fluffy?

Only bumblebees are fluffy and there are 50 species of these in the UK. Honeybees are smooth but have furry backs when they first pupate. They lose this hair as they grow older. They also have special long hairs on their back legs that they use to transport pollen. You can see these bags quite easily as they fly into a hive.

Me: In The Hive, the bees have a strong family bond and friendships with other insects.  What lessons can we learn about community and family from bees?

Tony Gray: Naturally bees are not really linked to any other insect. They do however have a strong hive identity, which is linked to the pheromones (chemicals) that the queen secretes.  I don’t think we can really learn about community and family since they are so alien to mammals. However a colony as a super-organism is amazing. We need to marvel at the diversity of nature.

To find out more about how you can help save the bees with Disney’s The Hive toys, visit

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