Thursday, May 1, 2014

Bees and Bee Books!

Sunrise was at 6:04, sunset will be at 8:12.

Windy, cool, and wet.  Our lilacs smell so GOOD.  The air is fair thick with floral scents and color:  lilac, the last of the cherry blossoms, the chartreuse maple catkins, woody lavender...imagine being a bee in all that ultraviolet light, all those little flowers flashing "Land here! Land here!  Pollen and more pollen HERE!"  The rosemary along the house is huge and blue - no bees, yet, though, and it usually hums with all the bees jockeying for position.  I worry that the flowers will be gone before the bees arrive (if they arrive!).  I just went to the Puget Sound Beekeepers site to check the bee friendly garden plant list and will be heading to Swanson's soon to go shopping.  I also checked out how to become a hive renter.  We have a small yard but it has amazing plants that bees LOVE, we are on a hill with no buildings to our western side, and I think a few hives would be perfect here.  I'll let you know what I find out.  (I understand that renters get a couple of jars of honey that "their" bees make.)

Some favorite bee books from my shelves.
There is a new book out called The Bees, by Laline Paull, the latest in some pretty good books about bees and the lives of bees.  Paull's book gives us a good look at the life of a honeybee hive.  From the lowliest worker bee to the queen, she explains how the hierarchy of the bees in a hive behaves, including what each caste of bees does and is responsible for.  The story focuses on Flora 717, a sanitation worker, who is dangerously curious about the hive, the other bees, and the world that surrounds her.  Using Flora's curiosity about how things work, we are let in on the secrets she uncovers through her journey from each level and season.

The science of The Bees was pretty cool, lots of information about royal jelly, how a queen is made, what workers do, how a hive operates, what the foragers do and how they do it.  I LOVED the parts about the foragers, especially, because they're the ones we see.  These are the bees that make our world bloom, blossom and seed.  The bits about flying over a field covered in pesticides or gas and oil were pretty horrible and paint a pretty good picture of why we should be more hesitant about hopping into our cars.  I really liked the parts, too, about why not every pretty flower is particularly worth having in a yard.  (Ecco Press.)

One of the first fictionalized books I read about bees was A Hive for the Honeybee, by Soinbhe Lally.  This was a stunning story about a worker bee, Thora, and the upheaval in the hive when the old queen is sent out to start a new hive and a new queen has yet to be born.  Originally published in 1999, with pictures by Patience Brewster, it is a little gem of a book filled with good information about bees and bee life. It looks as if this title is now out of print so the library might be the only place to see it.  (Scholastic.)

Robin McKinley's Chalice is a fantasy novel filled with magic and bees.  Mirasol is a beekeeper until the death of the Priest of Fire's brother dies and the new Master appoints her his Chalice.  Her duties are to bind the Master's Circle, the land and its people to its new Master - but his touch can burn human flesh to the bone. Romantic and busy, Chalice is a fairytale filled with earth lore and the healing power of honey.  Like a few of McKinley's other books, the narrative wanders around, a little stream-of-consciousness-y, but I kind of like that.  (Penguin.)

Bees, Nature's Little Wonders, by Candace Savage, is a lovely, gifty book filled with facts and the science of bees and how they live and work.  In addition to the facts of bee-life, the book is packed with lore, tales, photography and other ephemera gathered through the years.  It's a good basic book about bees. (Greystone.)

Anything out there that you've loved, bee-wise? 

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