Friday, June 24, 2022

The Buzz about Bee Books

If you’re a longtime follower of my blog, you know I am passionate about bees. I spent a summer at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab (RMBL) near Crested Butte, Colorado following - and tagging -bumble bees. So I’m ending Pollinator Week with a couple of picture books that focus on bees. 

theme: bees, mystery, nonfiction

Honeybee Rescue: A Backyard Drama
by Loree Griffin Burns; photos by Ellen Harasimowicz 
40 pages; ages 5-8
‎Charlesbridge, 2022

This is Mr. Connery, and that is his ramshackle barn… a few days ago, on the way to his vegetable garden, Mr. Connery noticed that the rickety old structure was buzzing.

When he looked inside, he discovered that honeybees had taken up residence in a corner of the barn. Now, Mr. Connery raises bees, so he knew that this was a new colony. And he wanted to save it. This book tells the story of how a honeybee rescuer removes the colony of bees from the barn and relocates them into a hive. There is mystery. There is adventure. There is a honeybee vacuum!

What I like about this book: I like how Loree Burns turned a swarm of honeybees into a tale of drama and suspense. Why are the bees in the barn? She explains swarming. How will Mr. Connery get them back into a hive? Loree introduces a beekeeper who specializes in rescuing honeybee swarms – whether they’re in a church steeple or the wall of a house or, as in this case, clinging to the rafter of a derelict barn. 

We get to see the insides of a honeybee hive and meet the queen. We see a Honeybee Sucker-upper in action! And there is a wonderful interview with the bee rescuer, plus lots of great back matter.

Not only does Loree write amazing books for kids, but she is also a scientist. So I had to ask her One Question.

Me: How is writing a book for kids like being a scientist?

Loree: I’ve begun to think about writing as being like a scientist in its iterative nature.

When I was doing bench research, I designed experiments that I hoped would help me understand how something worked. (In my case, how do cells regulate the expression of genes inside their nuclei?) Once I’d done my experiment, I usually had a bit more information about how cells achieve that regulation … but I didn’t have the whole answer. Just enough to think about how to design a new set of experiments that would expand on what I’d learned even further. And so on and so on until a story began to emerge, ever so slowly, about the ways that cells regulate their genes.

Similarly, when I’m writing, I go through a long process of incremental progression. I have an idea for a story I want to tell, and I draft it on paper. Once it’s all written out, I put it aside for a hot minute. When I’m ready, I pull it out to re-read, scouring the storytelling for sentences and paragraphs and pages that work … and also for ones that don’t. Then I revise. With each revision, as with each set of experiments, I get closer to telling the whole story in the right way. It’s all trial and error, fits and starts, bit by bit.  But eventually I get there!

One of the skills I picked up during my summer at RMBL was how to identify bees by their sounds. So I was intrigued by this book.

After the Buzz Comes the Bee: Lift-the-Flap Animal Sounds 
by Robie Rogge; illus by Rachel Isadora 
32 pages; ages 2-5
Holiday House, 2022

After the buzzzzzzzzzzzz… (lift the flap) comes the bee.

Each spread presents a sound: ribbit-ribbit, ah-ah-ah, munch-munch-munch. But you have to lift the flap to reveal who makes that sound. A frog, for sure, but ah-ah-ah? Who could that be? And what’s fun is that the inside of the jacket cover is a poster.

Bee-yond the Books:

Listen to the sounds bees make as they fly by and as they visit flowers. Write down the sounds you hear and see if you can create your own list of buzz-words for pollinators visiting your yard or neighborhood. Check out this article to learn more about why bees buzz and hear two different bees.

Go on a Pollinator Scavenger Hunt. Here's one list you can use to inspire your discovery adventure.

No Bees, No Picnics. Here are some of the foods we eat that depend on bees for pollination. How many do you eat?
Apples, apricots, avocados, beans, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, cocoa, cranberries, cucumbers, grapes, lemons, limes, mangos, nectarines, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tomatoes, walnuts, and watermelons  

More books about bees:

Loree Griffin Burns is a member of #STEAMTeam2022. You can find out more about her at her website. 

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.


  1. My parents were beekeepers, and I loved working the hives. I just ordered Honeybee Rescue from my library. Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. These are terrific book reviews. I've read several, but now I've added others to my TBR list. Thank you!

  3. I read a bunch of books about bees earlier this year, including one written for adults (I was writing a WFH board book about bees) and have been smitten with bees ever since. They're amazing creatures, and it makes me sad that so few wild bees exist for a variety of reasons. Oh, and from what little I've read here about Mr. Connery, he's already stolen my heart.

  4. What an unusual twist to a story on honeybees. Haven't read a story based on rescuing swarming bees and putting them in a hive. I can't imagine how you count and tag honeybees! I love honey bees and am always fascinated with storybooks about them, but am allergic to their stings. Great review.