Teachers and educators everywhere have been wondering if there are books out there that can be used in the classroom to teach students about honeybees and the problem of Colony Collapse Disorder. It can be hard to find books like these, and when you do discover the bee books that are out there, it can be hard to know which ones are best to use. Whether you are looking for picture books to introduce young children to bees or nonfiction books to use with a classroom, the list below is a great place to begin.
A simple narrative about a child’s grandfather who keeps bees and is known as “the beeman.” Alongside the text, which has a gentle rhyme and defines the different kinds of bees, lovely illustrations will introduce children to a bee keeper’s gear, hive boxes, smokers, extractors, and of course, honey. Six pages of extra facts at the end of this bee book goes into more detail on the process of gathering honey, pollination, and the bee dance. After reading this book, try the recipe in the back for “Grandma’s Apple and Honey Muffins.”
This creative collection of poems, information, and paintings about bees will enchant children who love bright colors and silly-sounding words. Each page features a single poem about some aspect of bee life, a text block that provides more factual details, and companion illustration in the form of a brightly colored painting. The final poem provides a segue into conversations about CCD: “Bees give us sweet honey. / They pollinate flowers. / The bees wax in candles keeps burning for hours. / But some hives have vanished, / some bees disappeared. / (From mites or pollution / Or illness, it’s feared.)”
Although this book focuses primarily on grassland ecosystems, such as the Great Plains of North America, it is exceptional in its approach to bee conservation. At first illustrations show a thriving, healthy grassland and farms full of pollinating bees. Then, through the use of black silhouettes where bees and pollinated fruits once were, What If There Were No Bees? shows the answer to the question of its title. Strawberries, wildflowers, critters who eat honey and berries in the wild, and trucks full of farm fresh vegetables become black voids on the pages where bees have disappeared. This book also covers the food chain, provides a map of grassland locations around the world, and tips for helping grasslands (and bees) stay healthy. Of the three bee books in this category, this one would be the best choice for young children.
This book is illustrated with photographs and follows professional beekeeper Dave Hackenberg through his experiences with CCD – which began in 2006. Rotner covers the rapid decline in honeybee numbers, why bees are needed, and provides photographic examples of the many foods we eat that would suffer without bees. In addition, she explains how bees pollinate the cotton we make our clothing out of, and provide food for grazing animals. Different kinds of bees, possible causes of CCD, and tips on what families can do to help bees are all included as well.
This book is a great resource for older children who wish to know more about the causes of CCD. Illustrated primarily by close-up photographs of bees and their hives, this bee book provides an in-depth look at mites, pesticides, and illnesses that hurt bees. Markle explains the traveling bees who pollinate almonds, peaches, and other crops year-round, and suggests that overwork may be another detriment to the health of the bee hives. As the title suggests, this bee book handles bees and the problem of CCD in a scientific manner, and would be an excellent resource for classes or for children who need a resource for an individual project or paper. For more reviews of this book and other nonfiction books for use in a classroom, check here.
This book doesn’t have much information that isn’t covered in the bee books above, but it is a level two reader that kids who are excited about honeybees might enjoy reading on their own.
More beneficial for teachers than students, this book has a wealth of information, plus 25 projects kids can do to help them learn about honeybees.
For older children or teens interested in bees, this book of poems and prose is a lovely read.
Regardless of which bee books you choose to use, it is always a good idea to introduce children to honeybees!