Mason Bees and Daffodils

Although we didn’t get our daffodils from the Ministry this year (they somehow left us off the list!), Mrs. Boekhout had saved lots of the bulbs from last year AND she bought some special “Happy Canada 150” red and white tulips that came right from Holland!   In the Fall, we learned about bulbs and how they grow.  Then we planted our bulbs.  We also learned about the life cycle of Mason Bees.  They are Solitary Bees, so they don’t make a hive.  The females almost never sting, and the males can’t sting at all!  That’s nice!  Mason Bees are one of the first insects to come out in Spring, and they are important pollinators.  Mrs. Boekhout keeps the cocoons over the summer, washes them in Fall, and then tucks them away over the Winter in a cool, but not freezing, place.

Early Spring is also the time when we get our Mason Bees ready to “wake up”.   Our wonderful “Mason Bee Man”, Pasquale, came into the class to tell us more about the bees.  He showed us how to “roll” paper straws for the bees to use for their eggs.   Mason Bees pack a pile of pollen in the tubes first, then they lay just one egg and they build a little mud wall… all inside the straw!  Every egg has its own little bedroom!  Our job was to get the straws ready.  Pasquale hand-made a special Mason Bee house for our class the year before!  He painted it beautiful colors, and made little “cubbies” in it. He opened up one of the cocoons for us to see, and hold, a live Mason Bee!  The rest of the cocoons went in a little box.  We put the little box inside the Bee House and then waited… not very long… to see the first bees emerge!  We cheered and clapped for them!


Later on, but still in Spring, we were SO excited when our bulbs started to pop up out of the soil!  When our beautiful flowers started to open, we learned more about the anatomy of a flower and the daffodil life cycle.   We couldn’t wait to go outside to sketch them! They made the Sanctuary look SO BEAUTIFUL!


Here is a SlideShow of us at both our fun times in the Sanctuary!

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Can you remember where YOUR Daffodils were?

Mason Bee House!

We were SO lucky this year, and so were our Mason Bees! Pasquale, our local “Mason Bee Man“, dedicated a lot of time and effort over the winter to hand-make an AWESOME new wood Mason Bee House for our school! It even has RAINBOW COLOURED “Mason Bee Cubbies”! It is such a BEAUTIFUL new Mason Bee home, and Pasquale even donated a cubby-full of cocoons to hatch! We truly THANK YOU, Pasquale!!!

We learned a lot more information about Mason Bees from Pasquale’s introductory lesson and from the DVD that his son made. It was interesting (and a little scary) to actually see real pollen mites and parasitic wasps under the microscope! It’s not easy to be a BEE!

The best part is… seeing our own Mason Bees fly in and out of their new home!


Here’s a short video of some of our “Bee Action” in the Sanctuary Courtyard!

What do YOU remember best about setting up our Mason Bee House?




Mason Bees in the Fall

We went on a Field Trip to the Inspiration Garden last week,
to learn about Mason Bees!



We were sooooo lucky… it was a PERFECT Fall day, sunny skies and crisp, cool air!  There were three stations for us.  At one station we learned about the difference between Mason Bees and Honey Bees.  Mason Bees are solitary and Honey Bees are social.  Mason Bees almost never sting… in fact, the male bees CANNOT sting!  Some of us remembered that they drink nectar (for energy) and eat pollen (for protein).  Lots of us remembered that bees are insects and have 3 body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen) and 6 legs.  We learned that Mason Bees can pollinate more flowers than Honey Bees because they DON’T have a “pollen basket” on their legs.  This means that they “dust” more pollen when they travel from flower to flower.

We got to meet Pasquale, who is our local BEE EXPERT.  Last year he had 8,000 Mason Bee cocoons!  He showed us what Mason Bee houses look like and he had some live Mason Bees to show us.  That’s pretty special because almost all Mason Bees are still in their cocoons in the Fall.  Pasquale opened a cocoon for us and we saw a REAL LIVE BEE come out!  Some of us even got to hold it!  Then he showed us the tiny pollen mites that are bad for Mason Bees.  We saw how he washed the cocoons to clean off the mites.  Amazing!

Our third station was a lot of fun!  They had an “Arts ‘n Crafts” table where we made “mini pumpkin bees” to take home!  The volunteers at the Inspiration Garden grew all the pumpkins themselves!  Wow!   We used Sharpies, black duct tape, construction paper, wax paper, sparkly pipe cleaners, and “googly eyes” to make the cutest bees ever!

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Thank you,
Inspiration Garden Volunteers!

We learned a LOT and had a LOT of FUN too!


What was YOUR favorite part
of learning about Mason Bees?

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Walking Stick Tricks!

Today we went out into Nestor park area to identify and collect some blackberry bramble for our Walking Stick insects to eat. (Mrs. B. had gloves on because bramble has big thorns!) Blackberry bramble grows wild all over Coquitlam, and it is actually an invasive species, which means it is crowding out our native plants! (So Mrs. B. doesn’t feel bad collecting it… but she doesn’t cut the branches with yummy berries on them!) Then we had our first chance to observe our little pets CLOSE UP!  Walking Stick insects belong to the Phasmid insect group.  Phasmid means “ghost” and they are called that because their camouflage helps them “disappear” into the leaves and branches!

We have four different kinds of Walking Sticks in our class: Indian Sticks (they are the very best at folding up just like a little stick!), Vietnamese Sticks (they are green and are our longest ones), Pink Winged Sticks (they can fly short distances), and brown Thorny Sticks (a little scary to look at, but it’s fun to watch the big females give the little males “piggy back rides”).

We learned a little Stick Anatomy“… like all insects they have 3 body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen.  We were careful in our drawings to show that the legs (and wings) all attach to the thorax.  We learned that the special mouthparts are called “mandibles” and that they chew from side to side, not up and down like we do!  The abdomen holds all the organs… or “guts” !  The female Thorny Sticks have a long pointed “tail” that looks like a stinger… but it’s really an “ovipositor“, a special part that helps them dig a hole in the ground to lay their eggs.


Observing our Walking Sticks from Nora Boekhout on Vimeo.

“Where did you get them?” asked the class and Mrs. Boekhout answered, I breed them! You will get the chance to see babies at school too!”  It’s going to be a great year for SCIENTIFIC OBSERVATIONS!

Which Walking Stick did YOU like the best?
Go to our SURVEY below!!! 


StickBugs, Class Pets, and more!!!

Dear Mom and Dad…

This week we had SOOO many things to choose from for our Journal Letters home!  Mrs. Boekhout could have FILLED the board!  In the end, however, we had to choose just ONE event, so that we could practice our GOOD WRITING SKILLS by ZOOMING IN and ADDING DETAILS We want our parents to be able to VISUALIZE the scene.

Here are some of the exciting events our class chose to write about:

the class pets, the class hamster, calendar time, reading the next chapters in our novel  “Class Pets”, the new grass lizards, Clues & Questions by the Special Helper of the Day,  getting to hold the Walking Stick insects, the Terry Fox run, birds coming to our bird feeders.  Whew!

Mrs. Boekhout is going to choose the Walking Sticks for this blog because… WOW!  Everyone was SO excited when each table got a blackberry branch with 4 different species of Walking Sticks on it!  Stick Bugs are known as PhasmidsGhost Insects… because their camouflage lets them “disappear” into the branches and leaves. 

Our Indian Sticks do a neat trick… they fold 2 legs forward and 4 legs backwards, until you can’t see anything but a little green twig!  The Pink Wings have tiny, delicate wings and can flutter away when disturbed.  The Bacculum Sticks are our longest sticks.  They like to wave their 2 front legs in the air, just as if they were saying “hello”!  The Thorny Sticks could win an “ugly bug” award with their brown thorny bodies!  The males are much smaller than the females and you can often see them having a piggy back ride around the bug tank!  All of our Walking Stick insects live happily in one big tank, and they all eat Blackberry leaves.  Blackberries are actually an invasive species here (even though the berries are soooo yummy!), so Mrs. B. doesn’t mind chopping them off for “bug dinners”.

Walking Stick Welcome! on PhotoPeach


–> Watch our Walking Sticks Video here! <–


Hope you had an exciting week too!