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by Heidi Fallone on March 14, 2023
Tags: Adult (82), kids (49), nonfiction (40), picture books (24), nature (2)

Bees fascinate me, and not just because I love honey.  I recently learned that a friend of mine started keeping bees.  I hope to help them with their bees once the weather warms up.  Maybe I’ll even get some honey of my own to take home.

Bees live in an enviously well-organized society in which each member has a specific job.  The queen bee is the largest bee in the hive and is also the only female in the hive capable of laying eggs.  The worker bees in the hive, who are also female, clean the hive, feed the larvae, build the honeycomb, guard the entrance to the hive, and forage for nectar and pollen.  The only job for the male bees in the hive, the drones, is to fertilize the queen.  After doing so, they quickly die. 

Bees are essential to the pollination of plants which is necessary for the growth of flowers, fruits, vegetables, coffee, and even cotton.  The color and flavor of the honey produced by bees varies depending upon which kind of plant the worker bees gathered the nectar from.  While honey made from acacia nectar is pale in color and mild in flavor, buckwheat honey is dark with a distinctively sharp taste. 

Humans have practiced beekeeping since the time of the ancient Egyptians over 4,000 years ago.  Bees have recently been threatened by “colony collapse disorder” in which the worker bees inexplicably abandon the hive, leaving behind the queen and the larvae.  In response to this, urban beekeeping has become more prevalent.  Today, beehives can be found on the roofs of buildings in cities all over the world. 

Here are some books for both adults and children, fiction and non-fiction, that will have you buzzing!

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin
In this debut novel set in rural Oregon, a widowed beekeeper takes in two struggling young men.  Together, the three of them care for the bees and for each other.  Through their newly formed bonds, they each begin to realize the ways in which they can change the trajectory of their lives.

A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings: a Year of Keeping Bees by Helen Jukes
In this memoir, the author, who is struggling to settle into her new life in Oxford, England, is given a hive of bees by a beekeeper friend.  She spends the next year closely observing the bees in her hive.  She writes about hope and learning to live with the unknown, about restlessness and finding a home.       

Bees: a Honeyed History by Piotr Socha 
This oversized book, originally published in Poland, is packed full of information about bees.  The colorful, engaging illustrations by Piotr Socha are sure to capture the attention of readers, young and old.

Bee & Me by Alison Jay
This picture book by Alison Jay won my heart.  Without words, it tells the story of a young girl and her care of a small bee.  When the bee has grown large enough for her to ride, they gather pollen and bring beautiful flowers to their city.