Friday, April 20, 2018

The Buzz on Bee Books

Spring is here. Trees are flowering and dandelions are blooming, providing pollen for the native bees and honey bees. So this week I'm focusing on bees. And drop by on Sunday for Earth Day!

theme: bees, nature, environment

Turn this Book into a Beehive!
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.

What I like love about this book: It introduces us to bees, pollination, and then invites us to make friends with two kinds of bees: mason bees and honey bees. It includes 20 activities and experiments that provide children and families a safe way to learn about our busy, buzzy neighbors. And BEST of ALL - you can turn the book into a beehive for native bees. Durable cover and instructions included.

The King of Bees
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


  1. Considering how much I love honey and a garden full of flowers, I'll have to check out these bee books. Must say, I like the idea of letting part of my garden go wild to help the bees. The list of flowers, many people consider to be weeds, are some of my favorites.

  2. Hmm... I have a love hate relationship with bees. They hate me pruning, they even hate the lawn being mowed. I love the flowers and I love honey. Guess we just got to get along. )

    1. most of the bees that don't like my pruning are the sweat bees...

  3. Oh, how I love bees! The book that can be turned into a hive is ingenious! So many kids need to learn how important bees and other insects are to the rest of the world.

  4. Thanks for the links and books suggestions. I love bees. I am interested in doing my part to help them by growing plants they are attracted to. One day I hope to raise bees.

  5. These both look great. My parents were beekeepers and I often worked the hives. I know how important they are and am glad to see books that talk about them. Thanks for the post.

  6. I have both a love/hate relationship with bees. Realize their importance, but am allergic. My sister-in-law raises bees and she'd adore these children's books.

    1. most of the native bees in my garden ignore me. They are so focused on collecting pollen. Of course, I try to not weed out or cut the flowers while they are eating lunch... I am allergic too, but so far bees have left me alone.