The Boys & The Bees at the Natural History Museum

Jake and James at the Natural History museum
Jake and James at the Natural History museum, reading that ‘ nearly one third of all the food we eat depends on pollination by bees’

If you’ve read this blog from the beginning, you may remember two beautiful boys and their tomatoes– James and Jake, my grandsons who live in England, near Oxford. It’s winter there now, of course. Not much to do in their garden. So it’s lego and  library times. Museums.

And their dad, Alex, took them to the Natural History Museum in Oxford, where they read about bees. And saw bees at work, European Honey Bees – apis mellifera.

James watching the hive

The hive was hand-built especially for the museum. It has a  tube leading to the outside world, purpose-fitted with a perspex lid so that visitors can watch the bees coming and going.

James and the tube

The queen bee has been marked with a green spot on her back to help people identify her in the hive (but I can’t see her in this image from the museum itself).

Bees in the honeycomb

I imagine that the boys saw the attendant ring of bees that tend the queen bee constantly and watched bees storing the pollen inside the hive, to feed the larvae. They also saw extra information on the walls, like this–

the architectural

I especially like this chart of British bees. Males on the left, females on the right. There are 264 species, much more diversity than we get in New Zealand–


I love the names of this group. Buff-tailed bumble bee. Cuckoo bumble bee. Longhorn bee. Nomad cuckoo bee (lays eggs in the nest of the mining bee). Brush-legged mining bee. Rose leaf-cutter bee. Large red-tailed bumble bee. Carder bee. Large red-tailed bumble bee. red-tailed cuckoo bee (lays eggs in the nest of the Red-tailed bumble bee).  Lawn bee. Sweat bee. Cuckoo sweat bee. Flower bee. Honey bee. Cuckoo flower bee.

And here’s a fact that’s new to me: most bees are solitary. Only 3% of the world’s bee species are social.

According to the museum’s website, its hive–

Eventually…will have speakers so that people can hear the bees at work in the hive. The area directly outside the windows is being developed into a mini rooftop garden with large barrel planters containing some of the bees’ favourite flowers such as thyme and lavender.

I’m delighted that Alex sent me these pics of the boys learning about bees.

London’s  Natural History Museum has got something similar and some good bee information for us all, among their web pages–

Honey bees: What’s all the buzz about? 
British bumble bee identification guide
The museum’s Bee Tree (yes!)

bees in London Natural History Museum Bee Tree

The hive in Oxford and London’s Bee Tree installation have to be must-sees for anyone travelling with children. And for the rest of us. I hope they’re in all the guide books!

Back to bee-loved plants in New Zealand in my next post. More flowering. And too much heat, not enough rain.

P.S. For you especially, Jake and James. London’s new Bee Tree being installed.


The hive in the new tree.


And the door to the hive.


A treat to come, perhaps?

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