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POLLINATORS (Scroll down for butterflies)

Bee on hand image


There are around 220 kinds of bee in the UK and they are of 3 types: bumble bees, honeybees and solitary bees

Bees are vital to our survival on this planet, they are needed to pollinate about 40 different crops in this country including

FRUITS  apples,pears,cherries,raspberries,blackcurrants,melons VEGETABLES : broad beans, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins

Also we eat roots and leaves of plants like turnips,carrots,cabbage,celery, beetroot, but we need these plants  to be pollinated and make seeds in order to get new plants.

Take the bee puppets to the THE HONEYBEE JOB CENTRE and match them up with vacanies in the hive; Meet the Queen Bee; Interview the giant foraging honeybee; Run conversations between the foraging bee and a giant apple blossom flower, a Red Mason Bee and a Honeybee, a Blackthorn tree and a Bumblebee.....AND MORE!


Two model bees head-to-head


Apis mellifera

The set of eight  honeybees are glove puppets but can also be used as freestanding models as they are detachable from their one-size-fits-all “magic” gloves using Velcro.


During her short life of 4-6 weeks a worker (female) honeybee undertakes a series of jobs.

This role play activity aims to match up the capabilities of 6 unemployed worker honeybees with a range of job vacancies in the hive – nurses, cleaners, builders, packers, security guards and foragers are all needed. There is one drone (male) bee also looking for employment, but since his sole function in life is to chase the queen bee on her mating flight and mate with her, his long term job prospects (or indeed life prospects) are very poor.              The queen too is currently unemployed.

Read-aloud role play cards are provided as follows:

  • 1 Honeybee Job Centre Manager to set the scene
  • 8 numbered cards which introduce each individual bee -7 numbered bee puppets and the queen
  • 9 job vacancy description cards

The object of the activity is to match up the bees with the jobs. Factsheets provided enable children to compose their own job adverts.

Queen honeybee


The queen has a very long abdomen to store all her eggs in.

Since she has just the one skill to offer - egglaying- there is a very limited jobs market for queens.

The queen bee is fed all her life on Royal Jelly which worker bees make using a gland in their heads.

Bumble Bees

Buff tailed Bumblebee


There are two bumblebee queen models, mounted on gloves -

Red tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) and 

Buff tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

The role play conversation between the two bumblebee queens takes place early in spring when they have recently emerged from hibernation and are looking for nest sites.

Bumblebees live in much smaller colonies than honeybees – maybe 50 in a nest, which is often underground. Only the queen bumblebee survives the winter.

Solitary Bees

Red Mason Bee

RED MASON BEE (female)

(Osmia Rufa)

Red Mason bees are non-aggressive and very important as pollinators, in particular of fruit trees. They build a nest single-handedly and provide for their offspring but never see them.

The conversation provided between a Red Mason bee and a Honeybee highlights some of the differences between them.

BEES are not the only POLLINATORS!

Bee and flower

A giant foraging honeybee and a giant apple blossom flower hold a conversation which explains what happens in Pollination. This can be linked to discussions on insect-friendly flower plantings to encourage a wide varity of pollinators.

More pollinator puppets are available including a Marmalade Hoverfly, a Common Wasp and a selection of butterflies - Small Tortoiseshell; Peacock; Red Admiral and Comma  - all of which are dependent on nettles as the food plant for their caterpillars, Holly Blue and  Wood White.  There is also an Elephant hawkmoth, which pollinates Honeysuckle. For more photos see the Gallery section.


Four nettle dependent butterflies


RED ADMIRAL (Vanessa atalanta)

COMMA (Polygonia c- album)

and PEACOCK (Aglais io) butterflies

all lay their eggs on stinging nettles. 

So don't pull up all your nettles!


Butterflies galore - Large, Holly and Common Blues, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Copper, Brimstone, Speckled Wood and Ringlet. Portable arch will be available for display in 2021!

Painted Lady

Striking summer visitor. Hoards of them arrived in 2019 - a Painted Lady Year.

Common Blues

Male and female common blues. She is mainly brown rather than blue but they both have fabulous underwings.

Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown

These two have great similarities. Gatekeeper is slightly smaller and has TWO white dots on the eyespot as opposed to the Meadow Brown's ONE. How is your eyesight?

Since all plans for outings for Wildlife Roleplay over the spring and summer 2020 have been cancelled due to Covid 19, I have spent Lockdown making more butterflies, hoping one day to be able to use them in an interactive way.

I will continue to build up the collection and they are available for displays until normal activities can be resumed.

See The Gallery for more photos.

Butterfly interviews

Elephant hawkmoth pollinating honeysuckle

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