Sunday, January 14, 2018

Boning Up On Bees: Amazing Bees by Sue Unstead

Bees are amazing. They help flowers make fruits and seeds, and they give us sweet honey.

So let's find out what makes bees so special!

As familiar as the cheery little blossom buzzers are in poem and story and in our gardens, bees themselves are as strange as any sci-fi aliens. Like all insects, they have segmented bodies with three discrete parts and six legs. They have strong wings and sensitive antennae which they use to communicate.They have two great big compound eyes, and three little ones for close work. Their bodies are very hairy, and bees' knees are all they're cracked up to be, with little pockets for that all-important pollen collection.

Sue Unstead's fact-filled but easy-reading DK Readers L2: Amazing Bees (Dorling Kindersley, 2017), offers a wide range of bee lore, from their lives from eggs to larvae to pupae to bees. Until they hatch as adults, "baby" bees in all their stages require wax cells as nurseries and much regular care from the grown-ups. When they finally emerge from the early stages, there are three main types of adults--the one-and-only queen of each hive, the drones, and the workers, but workers may be pollen and nectar collectors, or they may be baby tenders, armed guards, and maintenance workers back at the hive. Bees are indeed social insects and live in a unique society.

In addition to life in the hive, author Unstead covers many of the important aspects of bee society, such as bee communications ("dancing" and "waggling"), bee senses (bees see flowers in different colors from human eyes), bee business--collecting nectar and pollen to feed the hive and store as honey and incidentally pollinating the plants that we humans depend on for our own food, fuel, and shelter. Unstead even goes into bees other than the popular honeybee, from bumblebees to several species of smaller bees who make no honey but also serve as miniature pollinators; and she also presents those curious bees that eschew hives, building nests from soil and grass, carefully cut leaves, and those opportunists who make do with holes in trees, fallen branches, and in the ground. Illustrated by Dorling Kindersley's trademark up-close color photographs, this level two book is accessible to most primary-grade readers, and its use as a nature science book is bolstered by a self-quiz for students and an excellent glossary of terms, all of which can help any kid to BE a bee specialist!

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