Google celebrates Earth Day with recycled two-year old game – here's how to play

Cartoon bee and foliage making up the word 'Google' for Earth Day bee pollinating game
(Image credit: Google)

Google isn't one to let special days pass by without marking the occasion with a little something. In this case, it's Earth Day, set for Friday April 22. And you can play a super mellow game that'll teach you all about the importance of bees instead of googling whatever it was you visited the search engine for. 

Players will take control of a fat little bumblebee tasked with grabbing pollen from ripe and ready flowers. The plants are color-coded, as is the pollen, and there are ready-to-be-fertilized blooms, so you know where to deposit your sweet, sticky load. 

The Google Earth Day game appears to be the same one trotted out in 2020 which celebrated the 50th Earth Day. This year's game also starts with a 'happy 50th anniversary of Earth Day' message, so the whole thing looks to have been recycled – which is fitting. 

You'll learn all kinds of interesting facts about bees and honey, to the point where you're definitely going to get the anxiety sweats. If you didn't already know that bees are a keystone species whose absence could potentially topple the ecosystem, there's that. And with bees disappearing, how is the amount of honey on supermarket shelves sustainable? 

The game is brimming with fun facts that will torment you for the rest of the day, while the soothing music and droning buzzing sounds wash over you. Here's how you can play, and learn all about our stripey, fuzzy little friends at the same time.  

Cartoon bee taking pollen between flowers in Google Earth Day game

(Image credit: Google)

How to play Google Earth Day game

Just type 'Earth Day into your browser and you'll be presented with an animated bee beneath the search bar. Click on it to open a pop-up emblazoned with a very green Google logo and another bee. Hit the play button to start the game.

You can skip the short intro if you want, or you can sit tight and read the brief text. After that, you'll get a quick example of how to play. 

In a nutshell, you use your mouse cursor to get the bee to hover over pollen-spewing plants. It'll automatically pick up one ball of pollen from the flower, which then turns inactive.

Your mission is to make a beeline for a flower with a matching color and dump your pollen over it. Flowers that need pollen are differentiated by the lack of detail – they're a more colorful silhouette that blooms into an intricate rendering when you pollinate them.  

Cartoon bee holding three different colors of pollen in Google Earth Day game

(Image credit: Google)

Your bee can hold up to three pollen balls at a time. If you pick up a new one when your stash is full, you'll lose the oldest of the three you're carrying around. So if you picked up a red, blue, and yellow pollen, in that order, and grab a pink, it'll replace your red pollen. 

All the while, the screen will be scrolling down, which is where the difficulty ramps up. You need to dart around collecting and distributing pollen before the flowers disappear off-screen. 

I'd recommend hovering near the lower half of the display so you can see what's coming and have time to react. However, sitting your bee too close to the bottom means you might inadvertently pick up some pollen you don't want.

The best strategy is to keep two pollen balls so you have a bit more leeway with the third. You don't necessarily want to bump the oldest for a new one, and if your bee flies too close to a pollen-pumping flower, it could pick up a ball by accident. This why you have a little more wiggle room for strategizing. 

Cartoon bee looking at camera with a bee fact above its head in Google Earth Day game

(Image credit: Google)

It's worth noting that it takes a few seconds for a flower to pollinate, so don't wave your cursor around wildly expecting every flower in your wake to be checked off. And try to deal with the flowers that are at the top of your screen first, to maximize the number you can get to in each round.

There's no apparent end game – or none that I ran into. Bee facts are presented to you at the end of each round, and given that I saw a couple more than once, I can only assume it goes on indefinitely. This way you can soak up bee tidbits all day long. 

Shabana Arif
News Editor, TechRadar Gaming

Shabana has been writing about games for almost a decade now, as well as covering tech, politics, food, and other random tidbits at Gizmodo UK. She's stepped outside of news every now and then to write game guides, and always appreciates a DM if she's helped get you out of a pickle. During her time freelancing, you may have spotted her words at VG24/7, GamesRadar, and IGN. She's also held the position of news editor at Gizmodo UK, T3, and The Sun Online.