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USING REAL BEES IN AN EXPERIMENT

For this project, we need a piece of plywood (or any other kind of lumber) that is 16 inches wide and 16 inches long. In other words, 16" x 16". It does not have to be thick, but it does have to be level. We also need construction paper in shades of white, gray, black, and one bright color, such as red or yellow. Further, we need 16 tiny paper cups, like the kind made for pills. These cups are about 1 inch in diameter, and 1 1/4 inches tall. We need to make some simple syrup, by boiling 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup sugar until the sugar is dissolved. We'll cut the paper into 4-inch squares, so that we have 15 squares of white, gray, and black, and 1 square of the bright color.

Let's put the board outside near some flowers, and arrange the 16 squares onto the board, with a pill cup on each square. We'll put some simple syrup into the cup that goes onto the bright-colored square. It is important that we not spill any syrup onto the paper squares.

Now we will back up a bit and watch. When the bees come to the board, watch and decide which cup they seem to like the most. If they visit the simple syrup cup, we need to remove the cups and rearrange the squares, then replace the cups. This time, we won't give them the simple syrup cup. We'll give them an empty cup instead. WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO APPROACH THE BOARD WHILE THERE ARE BEES NEAR IT. REMEMBER, THEY STING!!!

Now watch, and see where the bees go. Do they return to the colored square, even though there is no simple syrup there? If they do, it means that they were attracted by the color of the square.

It seems likely, then that the bees can see that color. There are some colors they see most easily: yellow, yellow-green, blue, and violet. Do you suppose that is the reason that most wildflowers are in those colors? If you can, watch bees performing their pollinating tasks in a garden of many different flowers, and keep track of what colors attract them the most.

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