Topic outline

  • Summary

    Secondary school students (13-14 years of age) learn at workstations about the achievement and the endangering of honeybees, focusing on communication and orientation of honeybees, the ecological and economic importance of honeybees, the colony collapse disorder and about what humans can learn from honeybees (Bee-onics). The structure of this learn-unit is based on the enquiry approach and includes hands-on-activities as well as interactive e-learning elements. The e-learning material contains various data and live streams of the internet platform HOBOS (HOneyBee Online Studies). HOBOS is based on a specially conceived beehive which is equipped with sensors, measuring devices and several cameras, as well as a thermo graphic camera.

  • Aims

    The overall aim of this case study is to promote appreciation of students for honeybees as necessary organism for environment. Furthermore the students should learn different aspects:

    * The students gain an overview of the ecological and economic importance of the honeybees.

    * The students get an insight into the structure of an insect society, exemplified by the honeybee.

    * The students develop the ability to extract relevant information from research data and charts by using the internet portal HOBOS.

    * The students develop an understanding for the necessity of the preservation and protection of the honeybee and its habitat.

  • Main activities

    The project is designed as a learning cycle in which the students learn at eight work stations. The eight work stations can be assigned to four topics:

    * Bionics

    * Economic and ecological importance of the honeybees

    * Life in the dark bee hive (communication and regulation)

    * Bee mortality

    Each topic includes a working station with analogue hands-on-activities as well as a station with an e-learning part. The e-learning activities are part of the HOBOS internet platform.

  • Involved actors

    Teachers, Researchers

  • Connection with the curriculum

    Biology (Social insects, honeybees, ecology, etc.), Mathematics (geometric figures), Science & Technology (bionics).

  • Where to find the application or case

    [1] The setups are stationed at the University of Bayreuth

    [2] The internet portal HOBOS can be find under:

    For more information please contact

  • Content

    The “To Bee or not to bee”-learning cycle consists of four interdisciplinary topics. Each topic includes two working stations with analog and digital content. To solve the e-learning-exercises the students use different tools and data from internet platform HOBOS. The learning cycle contains the following content:

    (1)  Bionics (Innovations by using the honeycomb structure (mathematic considerations of the honeycombs, usage in technology and architecture, etc.)

    (2)  Economic and ecological importance of the honeybees (Calculation and projection of the achievement of the pollination, impacts of a pollination lack on human and nature, further achievements of the honeybees)

    (3)  Life in the dark bee hive (communication and regulation)

    (4)  Bee mortality (CCD, reasons for that phenomena, action options for society, economy and policy)

    What is HOBOS?

    HOBOS (HOneyBee Online Studies) makes possible nearly every form of investigation: A short visit to the honeybee colony with technical equipment like webcams, sensors, endoscopes and thermovision allows access to the bee colony around the clock. These data, together with data on the weather and vegetation (like measurement of the water demand of the plants) not only are presented live, but can be used offline as well. HOBOS also allows for ambitious long-term projects, which support independent work and enquiry-based learning.

  • Relation to a green topic and curriculum

    The topic “Honeybees as social insects” is content of the biology curriculum of the 8th grade in Bavarian high school. In the projects students learn the connection between honeybees and the environment and thereby also the impact of human activities on honeybees and nature. One aim of “To Bee or not to Bee” is to show the students some action options for society, economy and policy to act with a view to environment.

  • Being interdisciplinary: Drawing upon many academic disciplines and teaching methods

    Besides the classical biological topic “honeybees” the learning cycle covers also a part of the mathematics and science & technology curriculum:

    * Mathematics: Geometric Figures

    * Science & Technology: Bionics

    Furthermore the connection between honeybees and the environment requires the knowledge of diverse disciplines: biology, ecology, social studies, geography, etc.

  • Relevance to the daily life of students

    There are many aspects why honeybees are important for our daily life although they might not be that obvious in the first place. Honeybees are animals which know everybody, but most of the people are scared of them and do not know the value of this organism. The most important thing the students learn in this context is the impact on their daily life, if the bee would not exist anymore. One aim of “To Bee or not to Bee” is to show the students some action options for society and themselves.

  • Based on accurate and factual professional expertise

    The professional background of developed learning cycle is ensured by cooperation with research teams and use of current statistics. Furthermore the HOBOS learning platform is developed by the researchers of the “Bee group” of the University of Würzburg. Students work in the learning cycle with original research data, e.g. temperature, bees incoming/outgoing, etc.