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Pollinator Seed Patties

In this activity, students make a paper patty from old paper and seeds to grow flowers which attract pollinators. 

Seeds of select species will grow flowers that will attract pollinators, especially European Honeybees, because of their colour, shape, size and smell.  Using native species will encourage local pollinator species as well as honey bees. By planting seeds, students will support urban pollinators, help increase pollination (and honey) levels, and learn observation skills, and explore the life of bees from their long-term observations.

Plants and pollinators depend on each other. Over 80% of plants depend on pollinators to make seeds for the next generation, and bees’ sole food source comes from flowers. Without pollinators many of our plants would cease to exist, and without our plants, many of our pollinators would cease to exist.

When you increase the number and types of flowers in an area, you are directly helping out pollinators, by providing them with a more diverse diet, more possibilities to find food throughout the seasons, and a better chance at survival. This can help maintain sustainable levels of pollinators, like bees.

Objectives

  • Describe the importance of pollinators in nature.

  • Describe, in general terms, how pollination works.

  • Describe the importance of biodiversity for both pollinators and plants.

  • List a few characteristics of common pollinators (birds, bees, butterflies).

  • List human actions that benefit pollination and pollinators.

Materials

  • Per Class:
    shredded paper (re-using recycled paper also helps the planet!)
    2 cookie cutters
    water
    2 big mixing bowl/pail
    5-10 newspapers
    2 flat-bottom strainers or paper-making mesh frames (a window screen also works)
    4 sponges

  • Per Student:
    20-30 seeds of bee mix seeds (from West Coast Seeds or another seed source)

Key Questions

  • What is the importance of having a mix of different plants for pollinators?
  • When will bees be attracted to these plants?
  • How can I attract pollinators into my garden?

What To Do

Set-up

  1. Mix shredded paper and water in the big mixing bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes at least to get the paper fully soaked. Alternatively, you can create paper pulp using a blender. This will save time soaking the paper.
  2. Lay out all the newspaper. Half will be used for squeezing out the excess liquid, half will be used for letting the patties dry over time.

Instructions

  1. Place cookie cutters in the strainer or paper-making mesh frame. Place the strainer or paper-making mesh frame in a sink or big bowl.
  2. Take a small handful of wet paper pulp and place it into the cookie cutter.
  3. Sprinkle 20-30 seeds on the top of your paper patty.
  4. Squeeze out excess water with your hands by pushing on the paper. Try to push the paper evenly in the entire cookie cutter shape. The seeds should be slightly mixed into the paper patties.
  5. Remove the cookie cutter and place the paper patty on a sheet of newspaper.
  6. Push down on the paper patty using a sponge to remove any excess water.
  7. Let patties sit for the rest of class on dry newspaper.  Label which paper patty is yours.
  8. Take the patty home to dry overnight.
  9. When you are ready to grow the seeds, place it in a pot with soil, in the ground, or simply spray water directly on top until the seeds sprout.

Teacher Tip: To make the activity run smoother and quicker, prepare the shredded paper ahead of time by soaking it with water. That way when you are ready to make the pollinator seed patties, the pulp will be ready to go.

Extensions

  • Observe the plants as they grow. Plant the seed patties near your school or house and see if bees come to pollinate the flowers.How else can we help out pollinators like bees? Brainstorm as a class.
  • Plant the seed patties near your school or house and see if bees come to pollinate the flowers.
  • How else can we help out pollinators like bees? Brainstorm as a class.

Other Resources

Pollinator Resources

Bumble Bee Watch

Xerces Society | Pollinator Conservation Resources