I'm explaining to them the jobs of the bees in the hive. I tell them that the queen bee is an egg-laying machine and that she lays eggs all day long. I also tell them that in the dark, she knows when it's the longest day of the year on June 21, and at that point begins to slow her egg-laying down until the shortest day on December 21. Sometimes by the winter solstice, she may have ceased laying eggs altogether. But that date is also the marker for when she begins to increase her egg laying to build up the population for spring.
I explain that the bees in the hive take care of the queen - they feed her, they groom her, and, ...wait for it..., they carry out her poop! Their eyes get big for a second and then they start laughing.
Then I turn to the drone. I ask them if they know what a couch potato is? They all laugh and say yes.
I tell them that the drone is the couch potato of the beehive. They've all seen The Bee Movie and I tell them that it's all wrong. The boy bees don't do any of the work - they just get fed by the girl bees.
"Just like in my house," a little girl says.
Then I say that the drone has one job to do and that is to fly up into the air every day to hang out with other drones in the drone congregation area. The drones all wait, I say, for a queen to fly through the drone congregation area and they try to give the queen a "special hug."*
"A special hug?" they question.
At this point, as the speaker, I am in a bit of a bind. These are seven and eight-year-olds. Have their parents told them about sex yet? Maybe some have, but surely some haven't, and it's not my job.
"Yes," I say, " A special hug.....and then the drone dies."
They gasp! They don't get this. He dies?
One little girl says, "Probably the queen hugged him too hard."
*(thanks to Dean Stiglitz for the special hug explanation!)