Friday, June 23, 2023

Bees Lead Busy, Buzzy Lives

Since it is pollinator week, I'm featuring books that highlight pollinators. The themes of the day are: pollinators, insects, nature

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera 
by Candace Fleming; illus by Eric Rohmann 
40 pages; ages 4 & up
‎Neal Porter Books, paperback edition, 2023

One summer morning deep in the nest, a brand-new honeybee squirms, pushes, chews through the wax cup of her solitary cell and into… a teeming, trembling flurry.

This brand-new bee is welcomed into the colony with tongue-licks and antennae-touches and then set to work. Her first job: tidying the nursery. A few days later she is transferred to nanny duty, inspecting the larvae and feeding them. After a few days she moves on to other jobs until finally – finally! – it’s her turn to fly off to collect nectar.

What I like about this book: Candace Fleming does a lovely job shining a light on the life, and death, of a honeybee worker. Reading it, you can almost feel part of the hive. I like that she introduces the bee by her scientific name, Apis mellifera – Apis for short. And I love that every time she is ready for a new job, she wonders: flying? But no, not yet. And then, it is time to fly and we head out of the colony and into the fields with Apis, where we learn that collecting food for the hive is hard work. Back matter includes honeybee anatomy, more buzz about colony living, and how people can help honeybees. 

Bioblitz!: Counting Critters 
by Susan Edwards Richmond; illus. by Stephanie Fizer Coleman 
‎36 pages; ages 4-8
Peachtree, 2022 

A couple summers ago I participated in a Bioblitz at a local land trust preserve. It was in early June and I thought I’d be tallying insects. But it turned out that, due to the wet spring, there were fungi everywhere! Still, it was a great experience and so, when I saw this book I knew I’d want to read it.

Gabriel and his cousin, Ava head out to help count critters during a Bioblitz at a park. Ava loves birds – she was the character in Susan’s earlier book, Bird Count – and Gabriel is a bug aficionado. Over the course of the book, the kid (and other members of the Bioblitz team) visit different habitats and note what they find. Even though this book isn’t focused on pollinators, there is an excellent spread showing a butterfly garden and the birds, bees, butterflies and moths that pollinate the flowers.

What I like about this book: One thing I love about this book is that each spread features a Bioblitz list down the right-hand side, with numbers so you can find the critters in the illustration. There’s also a Bioblitz list at the back with critters sorted into groups: amphibians, birds, insects, etc. And back matter includes some of Gabriel’s “did you know?” facts (imagine a bug-loving kid jumping up and down saying “did you know…?)

Beyond the Books:

Go on a Pollinator Bioblitz. Choose an area – maybe your back yard or a botanical garden – and try to find as many pollinators as you can. Take photos of what you find, and make a Bioblitz list. 

Examine the flowers that your local pollinators are visiting. Use a hand lens or magnifying glass to get a close look at the inside of the flower (when a bee is not inside it!) – can you see the pollen? You can smear a bit on a white piece of paper to see what color it is.

Did you know that a honeybee worker only makes an average of 1/12 of a teaspoon in her lifetime? There are 21 and 1/3 tablespoons of honey in a pound, and it takes 3 teaspoons to make a tablespoon. Can you figure out how many bees it takes to make a pound of honey? You can find lots more honeybee facts at

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.

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