Does it stress you out that bees are in trouble? The state of the Amazon rainforest, frogs and toads, and bees are probably the three things about the environment that I worry about. Not that I know exactly what to do. I guess the first step is educating. And then action. So here’s my self-education journey about the plight of the bees.
If your kids like Bee Movie, they’ll like this PBS video on how honey is made.
My Favorite Bee, Honey, and Pollination Books for Kids
I like nonfiction picture books that read like a story as opposed to boxes of factoids. I combed my library’s nonfiction in search of these kinds of books about bees, that also tell the whole story of the bees’ current plight. What books do you recommend? Thanks for sharing!
Jhupli’s Honey Bee Box by Achintyarup Ray, illustrated by Shivam Choudhary
The Sundarbans region, sandwiched between India and Bangladesh, is beautiful but also home to tigers, crocodiles, and venomous snakes. Jhupli worries about her father when he heads out in a boat toward the jungle in search of wild honey to sell. Her mother catches small fish to sell in the market. Jhupli has a big idea. She asks her teacher about honey bee boxes, a way to raise honeybees that she remembered the forest department giving people. Her teacher pursues this idea and soon no one has to go into the jungle for honey. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Kaia and the Bees by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Kaia is scared of bees because she was stung once and it hurt a lot. Her father keeps bees in their room and finds the courage to go help him once the neighborhood kids call her out for lying about being a bee expert. She gets stung again. When she learns more about the plight of the bees, she finds that she can overcome her fear of bees. Knowledge is power! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
After the honeybee emerges from its cell, it is busy in the hive, cleaning, tending to larvae, building the wax comb, and guarding the hive against invaders. The honeybee does these many varied jobs before heading out of the hive in search of nectar. This lushly illustrated picture book depicts the fascinating life of the Apis Mellifera, or honeybee, and informs as well as entertains. [nonfiction picture book, ages 6 and up]
The Bumblebee Queen by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne
Scientists aren’t sure what signals an egg to become a queen or a worker.
I love this nonfiction picture book that reads like poetic prose but is also filled with bee-encircled factoids that relate to each page. I always pictured the bee queen to be hard at work making eggs, tended by other bees, but this picture book shows another side of the Queen Bee as she sets about making a nest all by herself.
Here’s the story that relates to Winter Bees:
“The new queens drink nectar, search for soft earth, then dig down to wait for spring. But the workers, the drones, and the old queen bee stay aboveground. They die. They cannot survive the cold.” [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman & Rick Allen
These poems tell of the animals and creatures that live in the tundra and how they brave the cold winter. This book is a treasure with gorgeous illustrations, free verse poems, and a sidebar of interesting facts about animals’ wintering strategy.
We are an ancient tribe,
a hardy scrum.
Born with eyelash legs
and tinsel wings,
we are nothing on our own.
Together, we are One.
[poetry picture book, ages 4 and up]
What If There Were No Bees?: A Book About the Grassland Ecosystem (Food Chain Reactions) by Suzanne Slade
The Bee Movie might have educated children on the ecosystem and the role the bees play in the food chain, but this book takes it one step further to explain the interdependency and the consequences of a world without bees. And on the last page … other grassland animals are in danger: masked bobwhite, Utah prairie dog, and prairie chicken. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle
This advanced nonfiction picture book would appeal to kids who like to solve mysteries. Why are worker bees disappearing? What is happening to them? Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is happening all over the world to the bees. Could it be a change in habitat? Could honeybees be overworked? Are cell phones causing this? Are mites the culprit? Could a deadly fungus be the cause? What about pesticides? The case for the missing honeybees is still open! See if you can solve this open case! [advanced nonfiction picture book, ages 6 and up]
Honeybees by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by Carla Golembe
This National Geographic Society picture book takes you inside a beehive, introducing the reader to all the different players from larvae to queen bee, and their functions in the colony. Our larva goes through several job positions from a young worker bee doing clean-up duty, to a nurse bee feeding larvae, to a house bee as a wax maker, and finally as a nectar beggar. She could have been a guard bee (or a robber bee) or a forager bee. The life of a bee is full of job transitions! Who knew? [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Bee Tree by Stephen Buchmann and Diana Cohn, illustrated by Paul Microcha
In the rainforest of Malaysia are honey hunters who scale enormous trees on moonless nights to harvest the honey. Nizam’s grandfather has always been the honey hunter for his clan, but tonight the torch is passed and Nizam will take his place. His grandfather does one final climb to teach him the rites and intricacies of harvesting the wild honey made by giant honey bees, a golden treasure of the rainforest. [nonfiction picture book, ages 6 and up]
In the Trees, Honey Bees by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Cris Arbo
This is the perfect nonfiction picture book for preschoolers. Read the short rhyming story and then fill in with the facts on each page spread if there is interest in more information. For a picture book with two storylines — both brief — this book covers a lot of material about bees. [nonfiction rhyming picture book, ages 2 and up]
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager
This is not precisely about bees or what they do. Instead, this is a multi-generational fictional chapter book with magical realism stories told by a grandfather with dementia to his granddaughter. I don’t really explain myself very well. Here’s what I wrote about this book for my Newbery 2017 picks:
I loved this realistic fiction chapter book about a twelve-year-old girl who is uncomfortable with her Mexican heritage. She and her family visit her grandfather at his rundown ranch in New Mexico. She’s never met him before, but they are there to help move him to Assisted Living as his dementia worsens. On some days, he’s not very approachable. On others, he is a wondrous storyteller. She discovers his stories about a magical oasis both bind him to this place and connect her to the Mexican roots she’s never wanted to claim. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
More short videos on bees and how they pollinate:
Another video on This Is Not a Bee (but it looks just like one).
p.s. Related posts:
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Food for the Future: Sustainable Farms Around the World
- Junior Library Guild Gold selection
- Selected as one of 100 Outstanding Picture Books of 2023 by dPICTUS and featured at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair
- Starred review from School Library Journal
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.