While it may not look like it outside, Family Day weekend is a sure sign that spring isn’t too far away. For a honey bee, every winter day is Family Day because over the winter, the bees form a winter cluster where all of the bees in the hive (between 20,000 and 60,000) gather around the queen bee and shiver together to keep her warm. The worker bees switch positions so that no one bee is on the outside of the cluster getting too cold for too long. To give them enough energy to shiver all winter long, honeybees eat – you guessed it – honey! So this family day, make like a honey bee and gather your loved ones close to enjoy these fun bee themed activities.
- Plan your bee-friendly garden.
One of the most enjoyable things to do when it’s cold and snowy is to sit back and dream about spring and summer. If you have a garden, it’s easy to add some bee friendly plants to encourage visits. You can order the seeds now and start them inside about 6 weeks before the last frost. If you like flowers, check out this post for some great additions to your garden. If homegrown fruits and vegetables are on your to do list, here are some of the bee friendly options you can plant:
|· Blackberries||· Carrots (allow to flower)||· Chives|
|· Strawberries||· Tomatoes||· Mint|
|· Raspberries||· Peppers||· Oregano|
|· Currants||· Eggplant||· Lavender|
- Make honey snow candy.
Maple syrup season is still a month away but if you’re craving a sweet snow treat right now, try making honey snow candy. Just like it’s maple counterpart, the candy doesn’t last so is best done in small batches and eaten immediately.
You will need:
½ Cup of Honey
Fresh, Clean Snow in a shallow bowl or cake pan
Metal Saucepan (Not non-stick / Teflon)
Candy Thermometer (optional but very helpful)
- Pour the honey into the saucepan and heat gradually until it comes to a boil.
- Let the mixture boil on low heat until the colour changers to a dark amber. Be careful – it goes from perfect to burnt quickly so don’t take your eyes off of it.
- Pour boiled honey over fresh snow
- Peel and enjoy. As the honey cools, it turns back into a liquid so it won’t keep but it’s so good, there won’t be leftovers.
- Make a honeycomb cell picture frame
Honeycombs are really neat geometric figures – composed of hundreds of hexagonal prisms (cells) attached to each other. For this craft we will be making a 2-demensional version of a honeycomb cell.
You will need:
6 popsicle sticks (you can use mini popsicle / craft sticks for a smaller frame)
Markers, crayons or stickers
A drawing or photo to go in the frame.
Double sided tape
What you do:
- Colour the popsicle sticks and / or decorate with stickers
- Glue the popsicle sticks together to make a hexagon (like a piece of a honeycomb)
- Attach a piece of string to the top of the frame
- Cut the drawing or photo to fit inside the frame and secure it to the back of the frame with double sided tape.
- Hang it in a place of pride.
- Curl up with some tea (and honey!) and watch a movie:
There are three bee related movies on Netflix Canada – two are documentaries and one is just family fun.
Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? – This documentary looks at the problems facing the bee population but focuses on the people – beekeepers, scientists, and philosophers who look at the role of bees in the delicate balance that is our ecosystem. It is thought provoking and profound.
The Vanishing of the Bees – this documentary is about bees and their role in the ecosystem. It looks at Colony Collapse Disorder and what we can do to help the bee population. While it doesn’t have the quirky charm of Queen of the Sun, it is still an informative documentary on Colony Collapse Disorder and gives some tangible ways in which we can help.
Bee Movie – This is a fun, family animated film about a bee, Barry B. Benson, who has just graduated from bee college and isn’t so sure about his career choice – making honey. Barry meets a human, Vanessa, who befriends him. All is well until he learns that humans have been stealing the bees’ honey. Barry decides to sue the human race – but what will happen if the bees win?
There you have it, some bee-utiful ways to spend the Family Day holiday learning about bees and enjoying the product of their labour with your family.