Friday, April 9, 2021

Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer written and illustrated by Aneta Františka Holasová

Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer
written and illustrated by Aneta Františka Holasová,
translated from the original Czech by Andrew Lass
Candlewick Press, 2021, 80 pages

There is something about bees and beekeeping that has always fascinated me. But since we have begun to hear so much about hive collapse and the dire predictions of what would happen if there were no bees to pollinate plants and flowers, my interest has grown. Bruno the Beekeeper is a book just right for kids who may be interested in bees, too.

It is the story of Bruno the bear beekeeper and his grandma, who helps him. The book begins with some basic bee facts, such as detailed drawings of bees and similar flying insects that will help kids sort through a world of lookalikes. This is followed by pages devoted to the worker bee, whose important role is hive maintenance and security, guarding the hive; the drone who keeps the hive stocked with bees by passing on sperm to the queen bee; and the queen, whose main job is to lay eggs that she then fertilizes with the sperm she received from the drone. There is also a detailed illustration for each bee showing their metamorphosis as well as a labeled anatomical closeup of each adult bee.

Also included in this section is a two page spread showing the hive a beekeeper uses and it parts, with a brief explanation of of what each part is and why it is needed, a two page spread showing the beekeeper's clothing, and a two page spread showing bee parasites and predators. 

Once these basics are understood, Bruno's beekeeping activities begin in Late Summer and Fall, which I thought was odd but once I read through this section, I understood why the author began here. This is when a good beekeeper like Bruno removes the supers and the honey frames that contain the honeycombs. These are cleaned of residue wax and put away for the winter, and all Bruno has to do until Spring is check that they bees are buzzing.

Come spring, Bruno reverses the process and supers up, putting the hives together. This is also the time when you might hear about bees swarming and a number of reasons why this happens is given.

Once summer comes, and the flowers are in bloom, honey making is in full swing and Bruno and grandma being harvesting the honey-filled combs using the honey extractor. When that is done, the honey is put into jar to be used and Bruno beings the yearly cycle all over again, beginning with taking apart the supers.

Bruno the Beekeeper is a interesting look at so many different aspects to beekeeping including all kinds of useful information about bees and their life cycle. I did find it a little disconcerting at first that Bruno is an anthropomorphized bear while grandma is an elderly woman, but the two work so well together that I quickly got past that and focused on their activities and the information at each step in the honey making process.

The writing may feel a little stiff at first, but remember, it was translated from the Czech into English, and there is a lot of technical information included which may account for that, but the translator did keep the humor of the original book. And it really isn't Bruno story as much as it is the story of bees and how we get honey. The author did the watercolor illustrations in various shades of honey browns and beiges with touches of humor throughout (check out the bee faces). 

All in all, this is a very nice STEM book, and one that you might want to consider including in your Earth Day library at home and/or in the classroom. There is much to be learned and appreciated in this picture book for older readers.

Be sure to check out the recipe for gingerbread cookies at the end of the book. They sound sooooo good!

This book is recommended for readers 7+
I received this book from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like such a neat book! I spent a few weeks helping out a beekeeper one summer and would be interesting in learning more from this book.


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