Thursday, October 03, 2019

Bees make honey and butterflies make butter

In science today we dove back into life sciences since our circular economy unit has seemed to have swung from being hard science into soft science (environmental science is like that—at times it feels like a science class, sometimes it definitely feels like social studies). We're still working on it, I just am counting it as social studies for now.

The kids are actually rather excited about it because we discussed the 17 UN Goals for Sustainable Development and then we picked one to work on together (since we're all responsible for making things happen). They decided they wanted to work on the first couple: that there shall be no hunger and that there shall be no poverty.

Secretly I was hoping they'd pick one of those goals because my friend Hayley's nonprofit, Lifting Hands International, is doing a push right now called "Gather for Goats" where you basically throw a party and ask guests to donate money toward buying a goat for Syrian refugees living in Jordan. So we're planning a little hefla for our neighbourhood in a couple of weeks.

The kids have made big plans for a cookie/lemonade stand (we considered hot chocolate but it's 90s still so I'm not sure anyone will feel like hot chocolate even though the calendar says it should be on the menu).

Anyway, in science we were talking about niches (the role an organism plays within its environment). I was trying to help the kids understand (at least as well as I understand things) and brought up bees for an example.

"What is a bee's niche? What role to bees play in our environment?"

"Bees make honey!" Zoë offered.

She's not really part of our "class" but she's there soaking things up every day.

"They do!" I said. "That's true. What else do they do for us? It's a very important job..."

"They're pollinators," either Benjamin or Miriam said.

"That's right! Now, do any other organisms in our environment make honey?"

"No!" Zoë said, then she lifted her index finger in the air and seriously informed us, "But butterflies make butter!"

"I...will not refute that at this point in time," I said, suppressing a giggle. "But, you're right. Only bees make honey. So that's really quite a niche for them. What about pollination? Are bees the only organisms in our environment that act as pollinators?"

"No. Butterflies can also be pollinators," Miriam said.

"And other bugs! And humming birds!" Benjamin added.

"That's right. But even though they aren't the only pollinators, it's still part of a bee's niche, right? It's simply not unique to them."

I love when my children understand the world so blatantly wrong. Not only is it adorable, it reminds me that I likely harbour many misconceptions myself. I can only hope my misconceptions are also considered adorable...


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Nancy! See also your comment on an old blog post.

  2. That was very interesting, as was the old blog post that my brother linked to. My brother ought to be writing regularly, I think, don't you, Nancy?