Despite having compound eyes, bees and ants don’t use their eyes the same way we do; in fact, some ants are blind! So instead of their sight, bees and ants often will rely on their sense of smell. Special scents called pheromones help them recognize each other and their homes. In this game, you’ll be the bee (or ant) and see if you can tell different scents apart.

What You Need:

  • A variety of foods with various types of scents. A few easily recognizable options include: pickles, mustard, peanut butter, coffee beans, mint candy, banana, and vinegar.
  • Cotton balls
  • Handkerchief or other blindfold
  • Film canisters or other small, opaque containers with lids, like empty single-serve yogurt containers.

Variation 1: Put a cotton ball soaked in the food (or a small portion of the food) in each container. Have the blindfolded children smell the container and see if they can guess the scent.

Variation 2: If playing the game with several children, divide each scent-soaked cotton ball into two containers. Pass them out to the children and have them take turns sniffing each others’ containers and try to find their “pheromone friend,” the person with the matching scent.

Variation 3: Make a smelling scavenger hunt. Hide a honey pot or honey bear and tell the children they must sniff their way back to the beehive. Make a trail of scent-filled containers that leads to the “hive.” Devise a “path” they must sniff out to in order to find their way back to the “hive.” Give the children directions to the hive using different scents to mark the trail. (Use pictures for younger children.)