Bee Board Game!

A tabletop game I created to teach people about bees.

Action cards were designed with specific goals in mind. The short-term goal was for participants to become interested in bees.

The long-term goal was for participants to follow news about bees, become more involved and take action to help bees and pollinators.

I suspect the bee board game would do well with younger people as well (~ 4th grade and older). For a much younger age range, I would likely work with an early age educator to design the game with more basic facts.

Gameplay: Players use game pieces and move from start to finish. Each turn, the player takes an action card, reads it aloud and performs the action in order to move forward.

The game is designed for 3-5 players and takes about half an hour to play. There are 29 action cards, including a few cards that move players back.

The exigency: Bees and pollinators are in decline. We need action from people to help with this.

The game: A short, creative, interactive boardgame that helps people learn about bees.

Expertise: My master's project was on wild bees. I learned a lot of bee trivia along the way.

The board highlights bee conservation facts and general bee facts.

The game pieces show the range of bee shapes and colors across different families and genera.

I designed some cards with "Did you know...?" type of bee trivia. Reading aloud cards and using the information to perform a creative action helps participants remember information and become more curious about the subject matter.

Some cards were designed as ice breaker activities, to make the game a social event.

I used active wording to emphasize that people can take action: "You created a garden" instead of "A garden was created".

This is the only card that moves all players forward, as I wanted this card to stand out.

The audience: University (graduate) students!

12 people participated over three game sessions. I evaluated the game with pre- and post-game surveys. I was able to track changes in response to questions such as "How do you generally feel about bees?" (On a scale of 1-5, 1 being negative and 5 being positive.)

Participants were generally favorable towards bees to begin with and were mostly casual game players. The area with the positive increase was participants' interest in bees as well as participants feeling more knowledgeable about bee issues.

According to survey questions (and my general observations during sessions), participants had a fun time playing the game. Many wrote that they would like to play it again.

Participants had various feedback about how to improve the game, including adding more gameplay elements or changing some of the cards.

Game evaluations


A few of my favorite participant reactions to action cards.

Some results from these "make up a poem or song" cards:

"If I could fly,

I totally would

but then something would attack me.

Probably an osprey."


They are flying

And they are hairy

They are scary."

During one turn, another participant started beatboxing to encourage the card player to freestyle rap about bees.

I thought this was an abstract request, but people were willing to give it a try.

Player responded immediately, without hesitation:

"If a bear was chasing me. I would find a hiding spot and take a nap in the way this bee does, until the bear went away."

The 2nd to last line elicited a universally horrified response.

This card had a suprising variety of responses.

"Make containers for food and not have to buy Tupperware again."

"Make a cover for my hair when I go into the shower."

"I have so many uses for this. It's hard to choose just one.... OK, I would build a small house."

"Instant raincoats."

Many people answered, "Be a parasite like Nomada and not carry any pollen."

Another response: "Carrying pollen on my abdomen would free my arms, so I could do more things."

Photos from game sessions.

Thanks again to participants who helped test this game. Disclaimer: the photograph of the thistle bumblebee  and the Osmia illustration are mine. I do not own the other bee images used in the game.