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Monday, March 21, 2016

What's the Buzz? Keeping Bees in Flight, by Merrie-Ellen Wilcox. Orca, 2015. $19.95 ages 10 and up

"The honey that we humans love to eat is made by honey bees. There are only eleven honey bee species in the world. None are native to North or South America. The species that is used most for producing honey came from Europe and North Africa, and has been taken to many other parts of the world by humans with a sweet tooth."

I have mentioned the books in the Orca Footprints series previously, and they continue to be exemplary works of nonfiction for our children. In What's the Buzz we get a close-up look at bees and bee-keeping from  Ms. Wilcox, a successful and ardent beekeeper herself. It is necessary for all of us to understand the very real importance of bees to our lives.

The author uses four chapters to organize the information she wants to share with her audience. In the first chapter, we learn in clearly presented text what bees are, what they are not, and a whole lot more. Different types of bees live very different lives, live alone or in colonies, map routes so that  they are successful at finding pollen and nectar, and are NOT all bumblebees!

"BEE FACT: Some bees are called cuckoo bees. Like cuckoo birds, they lay their eggs in other bees' nests, so they don't have to do all the work of building a nest and feeding their young. There are almost 450 species of cuckoo bees in North America."

The second chapter shows readers how bees work, the benefits to humans of their work and how we are putting up roadblocks to their success in doing their job. Chapter 3 spotlights life in the hive and how the bees work and live throughout the year. And they do work! In Chapter 4 the author wants her audience to carefully consider the work that must be done to ensure sustainability for these tiny creatures if we are to continue to reap the many benefits of their tireless work.

In text that is accessible and informative, with fine photographs to up understanding, readers will find much to interest them. The photos are clearly captioned; some are from the author's personal gallery.
In the All Abuzz sections, she shares personal stories that are conversational and enjoyable. In the BEE FACT boxes, she adds features fascinating facts for the wide variety of bees that inhabit the world.

Personal and informative, you will come away from reading this book wanting to ensure that bees remain part of our environment and hoping to help make that happen. As Ms. Wilcox shares her concerns for their welfare, you cannot help but want to know more about protecting them now and in the future.

The table of contents, list of resources, glossary and index are very helpful.

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