Honeybee books for kids (from which adults will learn just as much…)

I recently checked out two books from the library pertaining to my own interest in honeybees. Though I first read them myself thinking they’d be way over the kids heads, I decided to read them in chunks during our science time, and they really enjoyed them. My 6yo ds especially remarked while reading The Hive Detectives said, “This really IS like a mystery! I can’t believe this is actually happening in our world right now!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Also, I’m kind of having a Levar Burton moment right now. “You should read these books,…but you don’t have to take MY word for it…”

Honeybees at Home, by Lynne Harwood, was a delightful picture book, but as long as a short chapter book, really. It followed a woman’s developing skills as an apiarist, and the people that mentored her along the way. The pictures were very impressionistic, and my 6 yo ds loved studying impressionism, so, again, I think this book really spoke to him. I would call it a “living book” (as Charlotte Mason might have as well.) A living book is a book that relates facts in a narrative way — so that the facts aren’t dry and boring, but, as they’re related in more of a story format, really “stick” in your mind. Like sticky, sweet honey, perhaps?

After reading that book, we had the chance to listen to a backyard beekeeper present at our library! This was neat, and really a connection for the kids. They were hearing about what they read about, and it really reinforced their learning (and mine!).

Product DetailsThe Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe (by Loree Griffin Burns, photos by Ellen Harasimonwicz) walked us all through the the issues and mysteries surrounding the rise of Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, which is a serious threat to American beekeeping. The book helped us to understand the convergence of problems: pesticides farmers and home gardeners use, miticides beekeepers themselves use, and parasites and viruses that are attacking the bee colonies — which left many, many hives completely and mysteriously empty. The boos left with no totally 100% clear conclusion, but the probability that it is all of these factors in relation that have caused CCD. It also left us with hope that there were things we could do about helping bee colonies to stay alive and safe — and producing delicious honey for us!

I love sharing these books with the kids (and learn just as much as they do!)

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Local: Honey

Bees.

What does that word immediately bring to your mind? For some, its fear. We typically think of bees, and then we next think of a painful sting.

Up until about 3 years ago, when I thought of bees I didn’t have any memory of a sting. That all changed the day we took a bike ride, and an insect flew into my bike helmet, and stung me on the ear. At least once. But it felt like a hundred times.

What probably flew into my dorky-looking-yet-safety-producing helmet that day was probably a yellowjacket – which tend to look more, I guess, ‘beetle-ey’ with a hard noticeable exoskeleton.

And not something fuzzy, sweet, and non-confrontational, like: A honeybee.

Though, really, its hard to tell. Italian Honeybees, which you can see here,  have a nature that is pretty docile. They’ll defend their hive with all they’ve got – but you really gotta get ’em riled up, and be perceived as a threat. Yellowjackets and other wasps tend to be more aggressive, more easily agitated. How might one appear as a threat to these buggers? According to several wasp sites that I visited,  ” wearing colors” or ” moving” near wasps and their hives, is enough to set them off.

I try to put the memory of the cauliflower-ear-swell-fest that occurred after the sting out of my mind, and instead focus on the sweet, sweet product of honeybees. Which is…well…honey. Of course.

Honey is a great natural sweetener, that has been found, preserved, in archeological digs in ancient Egypt! All the fruits and veggies we enjoy depend mightily upon the bee and other insects, for pollination. According to backyardbeekeepers.com, honeybees themselves account for 80% of pollination! That makes mysteries such as Colony Collapse Disorder (where beekeepers began losing 30 – 90 % of their bees to death each year) very, very troubling for all food! And all people who eat it! *You can learn more about CCD here, and may I just note, there are many links to increased and increasingly varied and dangerous pesticide use that may be a factor in all of this. This phenomenon continues, and a dedicated team of researchers continue to put the pieces together.

I became interested in keeping bees through reading quite a few books – books on homesteading, both in the country, and urban. There is a neat novel that reads like a beekeeping guide called “Beeing” that I suggest you check out from the library (or buy, if you have a mind to. But you know how frugal *I* am).  I also became interested when I started buying local honey, from Paul and Lori Luthi of Three Bears Honey Co (click for their contact info). Please also keep the Luthi family in your prayers, and consider attending a fundraiser benefit for Lori, who is undergoing costly cancer treatments. Click for more info on the event.

I am kind of a stubborn person that likes to have tried everything once, and if I fail, then I can put it out of my mind. But…if its out there…not tried yet…I just can’t seem to rest until I, personally, have done this thing. Backyard beekeeping is “one of those things”. I’m *hoping* to go to a backyard beekeeping workshop in Medina, at the end of the month. This workshop is one of many hosted by Farrms.org – check them out for upcoming classes and dates!

Oh, and here is a picture of a Bee Haus, which might be a hive model that would fit in with the plastic urban landscape, and be more low-profile.

I also don’t know if the city code says anything about bees, so this is contingent on me searching through pages (online…but still) of legalese. Wish me luck.

Buzz, buzz!