theme: bees, nature, environment
by Lynn Brunelle; illus. by Anna-Maria Jung
192 pages; ages 8-12
Workman Publishing, 2018
Bees... whether you love 'em or hate 'em, we need bees for our survival.
That may sound over-dramatic, but the truth is that bees are a keystone species. That means, writes author Lynn Brunelle, "plants and animals in an ecosystem depend on them for survival." That dependence includes us - because one third of the food we eat depends on bees for pollination. Think: blueberries, apples, almonds, cucumbers.
But there's a problem. Bee populations are in decline. Not just honey bees, but the hard-working native pollinators that provide millions of dollars worth of free labor to fruit farmers. If you've followed this blog for long, you know I am passionate about pollinators - especially bees. Bumble bees, carpenter bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, digger bees...they are all too important to lose.
by Lester L. Laminack; illus. by Jim LaMarche
32 pages; ages 4-8
Peachtree Publishers, 2018
Henry and Aunt Lilla lived deep in the Lowcountry, where South Carolina reaches out and mingles with the saltwater for form tidal creeks and marshes.
Henry and his aunt live in a small house with a vegetable garden, a hen house, and beehives. He can't wait until he is old enough to help care for the bees. Henry wants his own coveralls and bee hat. He also loves the bees, their humming, and the stories Aunt Lilla tells about how the sister bees work together.
"Don't they have any brother bees?" Henry asks. Then one day the bees begin to swarm and Henry decides he'll help guide the bees to the new hive box Aunt Lilla is getting ready. Things don't go as planned and he has a closer encounter with bees than he expected.
What I like about this book: The warm, inviting illustrations that are so luscious I just want to walk into the scenes. The lyrical language and the gentle pace of the story - it is told on bee time, not fast human time. And the loving relationship between Henry and his aunt.
Buzzing Beyond the Books:
Go on a bee walk. Look at plants in yards and gardens, weeds growing along roadways... how many different kinds of bees do you see? Here's a "gallery of bees" over at the Great Sunflower Project. Just click on the photos to learn more about each kind of bee. Also check out this article at National Wildlife Federation - there's a great photo of different kinds of native bees.
Let part of your yard go wild - many of the plants we consider "weeds" provide pollen for native bees: asters, dandelions, yarrow, violets, mints, mullein. Or plant some native flowers for the bees - here's a link to get you started. You can find pollinator-friendly plant lists for your region at the Xerces Society site.
Learn more about Mason bees here.
And check out a video of honeybee waggle dance here. Then practice the steps so you can use the waggle dance to tell someone how to find the best flowers in your neighborhood.
Construct your own honeycomb of paper hexagons. All you need are some paper towel rolls. Here's how.
Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup - and we're also joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies from publishers