Beekeeping Posts

Beecala: The Africanized Bee Game

Written by Cricket

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While working on my Honeybee BrainyFile for kids, I was trying to come up with a game for the Killer Bee section. The lesson was about the introduction of the Africanized bees into our world via a selective breeding mishap. I thought it would be fun to tie Africa in with the activity section, and since Mancala is one of my favorite games, and also happens to be from Africa, I thought it was perfect.

You can play the game with regular rocks or marbles, but to make it more bee-ish you can get some black beans and paint a few yellow stripes on them. It may seem tedious to paint 48 tiny beans, but it really isn’t I figured out a way to make it pretty quick.

Here’s what you need to make your own Beecala game

  • mancala board or egg carton
  • a small handful of black beans (you only use 48, but you may as well make more because you know you’ll lose some)
  • yellow acrylic paint
  • fine paint brush
  • wide tape (packing, duct, or masking should be fine)

To make the Beecala bees

This is what the set-up looks like. I used tape on the back of the Mancala board to keep the beans in place while painting. That way I didn’t have to hold each bean to paint it. It’s so much faster that way. You can paint 50 beans in less than 15 minutes.

I think three lines on one side gives the effect of little bees.

Tape makes clean up easy too.

Now let’s play Beecala!

The object of the game is to capture more bees than your opponent and create the biggest africanized hive.

You need 

  • a Mancala board. This is a board made up of two rows of six holes each with two larger holes (called hives here) on either end. If you don’t have a Mancala board handy, substitute an empty egg carton and a couple of cereal bowls.
  • 48 bees (beans)

Set Up

  • Four bees are placed in each of the 12 holes.
    Note: Each player has a bowl or hive to the right side of the Beecala board. Don’t put bees here.

To Play

  1. Decide who gets to go first.
  2. The game begins with one player picking up all of the bees (this is a swarm) in any one of the holes on his side.
  3. Moving counter-clockwise, the player deposits one of the bees in each hole until the bees run out.
  4. If you run into your own hive, deposit one piece in it. If you run into your opponent’s hive, skip it.
  5. If the last piece you drop is in your own hive, you get a free turn.
  6. If the last piece you drop is in an empty hole on your side, you capture that piece and any bees in the hole directly opposite. You’ve just africanized that colony.
  7. Place all captured bees in your hive.
  8. The game ends when all six spaces on one side of the Beecala board are empty.
  9. The player who still has bees on his side of the board when the game ends captures all of those bees.
  10. Count all the bees in each hive. The winner is the player with the most bees


About the author


Welcome to my blog! I’m Cricket (yes, my parents named me that!) and I’m a natural homesteader. Growing up in rural Idaho with a garden, a horse, and lots of canned food, I like to bring those sensibilities to my suburban home in Phoenix, Arizona. Add a little dose of cottage garden flavor and permaculture tendencies, and you’ll see why GardenVariety.Life is a reflection of everything I do.

I truly enjoy sharing the skills that promote a meaningful and practical connection to our gardens and environment. Because so many residents of the metro phoenix area are transplants, I find that the area’s unique desert climate is often misunderstood and underestimated in terms of what is possible. That’s where the fun begins. Arizona is a burgeoning permaculture haven with homesteading written all over it, and there is nothing I enjoy more than encouraging others to jump in and give it a try.