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Students learn about the huge diversity of bumblebee species using an online community science database and observations in their own schoolyard.

Learning Objectives

  • NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Carrying Out Investigations; Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns
  • NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems; LS4.C: Adaptation
  • Recognize the diversity and distribution of bumble bees in the US

Guiding Ideas

This project was developed with the American Beekeeping Federation Kids and Bees program. Explore three new worlds, created by Lifeboat, and use new lessons to introduce students to bees’ dynamic and fascinating roles in their own hives and in broader ecosystems. Bumble Buzz is lesson 1/3 for the Beetopia World.

Introductory questions

  • Where do bumble bees like to live?
  • How many different kinds of bumble bees are there?


Student Activities

Introduction (whole class) 15-20 minutes

Turn students attention to the topic of bumble bees by posing the introductory questions above. Encourage curiosity and conversation; don’t seek out specific answers. Let students know that during this lesson, they will learn about the diversity of bumble bee species and habitats.

Break students into pairs or groups of three, with each group sharing one computer/device. Direct students to navigate to bumblebeewatch.org, and to find the Bumble Bee Sightings map. There, set the filters for your state, Verified status, and color coding by species. Explain that each dot represents a bee that was identified by a community member (like a student!) and confirmed by a professional scientist. Explain that these citizen/community scientists are critical for helping professional scientists understand bee species distribution and habitat preferences, because professional scientists couldn’t possibly get to all of those locations at so many different times of the year! Also explain that each different color of dot represents a different individual species of bumble bee.

Invite students to consider the data on the map. In their pairs or small groups, ask them to answer and discuss these questions: What do they notice? What do they wonder? What is surprising about this data? Gather the whole class back together, and invite a representative from each group to use one sentence to summarize what their small group discussed. Guide the discussion toward the large number of bee species represented, and toward patterns that emerge that indicate different species of bees preferring different places to live.

Minecraft Beetopia (explore as individuals) 15-20 minutes

Direct students to load the attached Kids and Bees Minecraft world file. Have them visit the Beetopia area and tell them to meet bee guide Alejandro, who will show their characters the Bumble Bee Garden. Here they will learn many fun facts about the fascinating world of our bumble bees! Ask students to take notes and photos along the way for use during the classroom component of the lesson.

In-Class Exercise and Discussion (whole class and small groups) 25-60 minutes

Break students back into their pairs or threes and direct them back to the map at bumblebeewatch.org. This time, set the filters to your state, your county, Verified status, and color coding by species. If a good selection of bee species has been identified close to your school, ask students to zoom in on the school’s location; otherwise use the whole county or, if no bees have been logged in your county, include nearby counties or the whole state.


Please download the teacher’s guide for the complete lesson.Â

Total time – 55-100 minutes

Performance Expectations

This lesson will enable students to:

  • explain that different species of bumblebee prefer different habitats
  • list and identify two of the common bumblebee species in their region
  • Observe and take comprehensive field notes about bumblebees in their natural habitat


  • Citizenship
  • Collaboration

External References

Bumble Bee Watch

A community science effort to find, identify, and map bumble bee species across North America.

Kids and Bees Minecraft World

Download and open in Minecraft: Education Edition.


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