Foxglove and Bumblebees in Iowa Prairie
In late spring/early summer, foxglove beardtongue is one of the only plants in bloom in the prairie. This provides an opportunity to observe a large number of bumblebees in a single location. The bumblebees visit the foxglove because it offers a source of pollen and nectar, which the bees need as a food source for themselves and their young. The foxglove also relies on the bees to continue its life cycle, as the pollination process is vital for the foxglove to reproduce.
- How do the life cycles of flowers and insects depend on one another?
- Why do you think the bumblebees are focusing on the foxglove and ignoring the other plants in the prairie?
- What role do the bees play in the foxglove’s life cycle (and vice versa)?
- What other plants and insects could you find in the prairie that depend on each other to complete their life cycles?
- Count, graph, and compare the number of bees present when the foxglove is fully bloomed and after the blooms have wilted.
- Create a model illustrating the life cycle of the foxglove plant.
- Research the life cycle of a bee or other pollinator and compare and contrast it to the life cycle of a plant.
Relevant Related Resources
- Additional Photos | Swan Lake State Park: Additional photos of plants from Swan Lake State Park
- Bumblebee Conservation Trust :This website is packed full of information about bumblebees–it covers their life cycles, identification, conservation efforts, and more! Could be used to support the research of the bee life cycle or to kick off a project to support conservation efforts.
- Smithsonian Gardens | The Why, What, When, Where, Who, How of Pollination: This is a simplified background about pollination/pollinators.
- Plant Structure | Think Garden: This video from KET’s Think Garden collection examines plant structure by taking a closer look at the root and shoot systems. Learn about roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, and fruit through engaging illustrations and animations.
Iowa Core Alignment3-LS1-1:
Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth,growth, reproduction, and death
Submitted by Carrie Hampton as part of the Iowa STEM Teacher Externship program.