It’s mid-summer in Manitoba, and our insect friends are busily doing their jobs in our yards and our parks. But nobody is working harder than our bees!

Kids are naturally drawn to bees, and for good reason: they seem magical. They’re colourful, they make a mesmerizing buzzing sound… and their bodies look like little furry balls of colourful fluff as they fly in and amongst the flowers.

With bees so active at this time of year, it’s a great time to help your kids learn about how important bees are to us, beyond being adorable.

This SciShowKids video offers a kid-friendly explanation of why we need bees to be able to grow fruit, vegetables, and so many other plants humans rely on to survive.

Is it a bee or a wasp?

You can help your little one distinguish between wasps (which can sting more than once) and bees (which die after stinging) with these quick tips:

Bee getting pollen

BEES are fuzzy and their bodies are rounder. They usually have black bodies with yellow stripes. They tend to steer clear of people as much as possible, and only sting if they think you are going to attack them or their hive.

Wasp on a piece of fruit

WASPS are hairless (their bodies are smooth), and are slimmer. They can be black with yellow or white stripes. They can be more aggressive with people… but we need them as much as we need bees. They play an important role in eating other insects, including the ones that eat our gardens. In fact, some farmers bring wasps into their fields on purpose, to help combat crop-destroying insects!

Look for bees and wasps, and challenge your kiddos to tell you which ones are which. If you don’t have any in your own yard, you’ll find them at Winnipeg’s many public gardens, like the ones at Assiniboine Park.