• Pan or microwave-safe dish
• ¼ cup sugar
• 5 clear dishes
• 4 pieces of white paper or index cards
• 1 piece of red construction paper (or paint an index card red)
What to do: Heat the sugar with a cup of water until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool. Fill four clear dishes with regular water and place them on top of white paper. Fill the last dish with the sugar water and place it on top of your red paper. Set the dishes in a row outside.
Over the next few days, watch to see if bees come to the dishes. Which one do they fly to first? A few days after you’ve seen bees at the sugar-water dish, move the dish—along with its red card—to another spot. Do the bees follow it?
Later, switch cards so that the red card is now under a dish of plain water. What happens in the next two days? Now leave the cards where they are but switch the sugar-water dish with another dish of plain water with white paper beneath. How do the bees respond?
Cool science: During the winter, bees huddle together in a state of hibernation to survive cold temperatures. When warm weather arrives, the bees leave the hive in search of their food—nectar—which is sugary water created by plants.
Bees find food by sight and smell. They can’t see colours quite like humans can, but they can distinguish colours, patterns, and even ultraviolet light. Brightly coloured flowers (ie, the red paper) create a bull’s-eye for honeybees and other pollinators—it’s why flowers are so colourful.
Bees have great memories, so once a bee associates something with food, it’s likely to return. The buzzers will probably be drawn first to the red card but might also find the sugar water by smell, even without the red card. Watch to see if they follow the coloured paper and how quickly the bees find the new location of the sugar water.