How to Make a Buzzing Bee

About: I love technology, and I love arts and crafts, especially anything that includes paper or fiber. I combine the two to make projects that make technology accessible. @amysuzannej on Instagram or Pinterest. I ...

Here is an easy and fun way to make a buzzing bee. It has a vibration motor on the bottom that makes the bee buzz and move. It's an easy project to do with younger kids (5-7) or to let older kids (8 and up) do with less supervision. It teaches a little about electricity and provides a tie in to science and nature if you want to use it in a classroom setting.

This bee is a variation of the “Pipe Cleaner Bugs” found on page 16 of the book Usborne Activities 365 Things to Make and Do.

Step 1: The Materials for the Bee

The materials you will need to make the bee are:

  • Corrugated cardboard. You can just use old boxes for this, or try using packaging inserts if you want to get thinner and easier to cut. They are very thin but still corrugated. If you want, you can buy a pack of them .
  • Yellow acrylic paint
  • Black acrylic paint or markers. I used Sharpies . They are permanent markers, but they cover the yellow paint really well.
  • Black pipe cleaners
  • White vellum or other paper you want to use for the wings
  • A vibrating motor . You will need one vibrating motor per bee.
  • One 1.5V battery (e.g. AG13 or LR44). You can also use a 3V coin cell battery (e.g. CR2032). The coin cell battery will make the bee’s buzz stronger.
  • School glue
  • Glue dots or double-sided clear tape to attach the wings and the battery.

Note: If you use a paper type that is not vellum for the wings, you may be able to get by with school glue to secure them.

Step 2: Cut and Paint the Pieces

  • Print the template for the bee and wings.
  • Cut out the pieces and trace the bee onto the cardboard and the two sets of wings onto the vellum or whatever paper you are using for them.
  • Cut everything out. Note: If you are doing this project with younger kids, you might want to help them cut the corrugated cardboard.
  • Paint one side of the bee yellow, then let it dry completely.
  • Paint or draw the black stripes. I drew mine with a Sharpie.
  • Paint or draw the eyes.

Step 3: Make the Bee Legs

  • To make the legs, cut 6 1.5 inch pieces of pipe cleaner.
  • Put a little bit of glue on one end of each piece of pipe cleaner and push them into the holes in the cardboard at appropriate insect-intervals.
  • Let the glue dry then bend the pipe cleaner pieces to shape the legs.

Step 4: Add the Buzzer and Battery

  • Turn the bee on its back. Attach the buzzing motor to the midsection of the bee. The motor may have an adhesive side. If it doesn't, use a glue dot or double-sided clear tap to secure it.
  • Tape the black, or negative, wire down and leave the red(positive) side loose.
  • Place the battery, negative side down, on the black wire. Make sure the metal of the wire is touching the metal of the battery. You can secure the battery with a glue dot or tape, but don't let the tape interfere with the metal connection.

Step 5: Add the Wings

  • Attach the wings, small wing below the big wing, using glue dots or double-sided clear tape.
  • Note that, if you use regular paper instead of vellum, you can attach the wings with glue.

Step 6: Make the Be Buzz

  • To make the bee buzz, place the red wire on top of the battery, making sure the metal of the wire connects with the metal on the positive side of the battery only.This should make it buzz.
  • Tape it in place and turn the bee over. You're finished!

Troubleshooting:

  • If the bee doesn't buzz, check to make sure you haven't created a short circuit by verifying that the positive wire is only touching the positive side of the battery and the negative wire is only touching the negative side. Also, the uninsulated wires should not be touching each other.
  • If the bee still doesn't buzz, check your battery to make sure it still has a charge

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