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Buzz about Bees

The Buzz On Bees
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Winters, Kari-Lynn. Buzz about Bees. Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside (2013 hardcover, 2019 paperback). ISBN10: 1554552028; ISBN13: 9781554552023. 32 pages, ages 7+. Classified “Juvenile Nonfiction/Animals/Insects” & “/Animals/Endangered.”


Imagine a world without bees. Not only would it be less colourful — with fewer wildflowers and flowering plants — it would be less fruitful as well. A world without bees would mean a world where the food supply would be significantly diminished. Global bee researcher Laurence Packer estimates that bees are responsible for 1/3 of our food supply.

Buzz About Bees is Kari’s first addition to the series that includes Lowdown on Earthworms and her own sequel Bite into Bloodsuckers. Each offers an in-depth look at an endangered and vital part of the natural world.

Accompanying information about the history, social structure and science behind the world of bees and honey are conservation activities to make the world a place where hives of bees can thrive.




  • see Press: newspapers for articles by St. Catharines Standard and Niagara This Week, and Press: radio for an interview with CHML Home and Garden Show about bees.


  • Review by Kent Miller in Canadian Teacher (September 2014), online at

    Did you ever want to know almost everything about bees but were afraid to ask? Buzz About Bees doesn’t have every answer but this non-fiction science based book is a great place to start researching this very interesting insect. From recipes through health aids to detailed facts, this book covers the subject of bees and their global contributions. The author uses a variety of text styles including lists, charts, maps, labelled diagrams and photographs to keep the reader interested and engaged. One of the most interesting features of the book is a Q & A which shows a Caesar wrap and asks which of the contents are dependent on bees. The answers are later in the book and provide details on some of the foods that depend on bee pollination and their direct link to our food supply.

    Classroom Connections: This is a book for the child inquisitive about the natural world, the living things that inhabit our environment, and how they directly affect our lives. The student presenting a research project, model, or report will find Buzz About Bees a perfect resource. The teacher creating a themed science corner in the class will want to add this book for children to discover on their own and use as a starting point for further independent investigation.

  • Kid Review, By Kids, For Kids by Mason (age 11) and Emilee (age 12). Summers for Reader Views (October 2013), online at

    “Buzz About Bees” by Kari-Lynn Winters is a book full of everything you would want to know about bees. Did you know that bees are so important that it is believed that,” If bees disappeared, humans would have only 4 years to live?” The author writes about early bee hunters around 13,000 BCE who were found on cave paintings demonstrating the importance of hunters who gathered honey. At the time it seemed like a very dangerous job. You learn about the differences between bees and what their jobs are in the colony. We also found out not all bees live in a colony (an estimated 97-99%) live by themselves or with just their babies. It is estimated that bees are responsible for 1/3 of our food supply. We really never looked at bees other than as an insect that makes honey and if you get it mad, it can sting you. “Buzz About Bees” really made us look at bees in a new way and realize how important they are to us.

    We liked how the author included pictures with the topics she was writing about so you could better understand it. We especially like that the author has ideas on how we can help the bees by making simple changes in our lives, like buying insecticide-free seeds so they are not toxic to the bees. We also learned what flowers bees prefer for nourishment and as safe havens.

    We really liked “Buzz About Bees” by Kari-Lynn Winters and would recommend it to anyone who loves nature and wants to take care of it. My sister and I are both home schooled and we were able to include this fun book as part of our science curriculum

  • Review: ***/4 by Janet Eastwood, in Canadian Review of Materials CM Magazine 37 (May 24, 2013), online at

    With punny titles such as “UnBEE-lievable Body Parts” and “Let Me BEE: I’m BUZZ-y Working”, Buzz About Bees takes an upbeat, yet serious, approach to its topic. The biology and social structure of the world’s many bee species are described and illustrated in detail with plentiful colour photographs and drawn diagrams in the book’s six chapters.

         Special emphasis is placed on human-bee interactions and the environmental and economic impact of these often misunderstood insects. Readers are encouraged to educate others about bees and to “BEE the Change the World Needs” by creating gardens with native plants, buying organic produce, building a nesting site for orchard mason bees (instructions and illustrations are given), and consuming local honey, as well as talking to teachers and politicians about the importance of bees. Other activities, such as a tag-like game and a recipe for a honey-lemon gargle, are included in the chapters and may appeal to recreational readers.

         The language is, at times, scientific but within the comprehension level of most readers. A glossary and index are provided, as is a list of books for further reading. The vocabulary is varied and slightly sophisticated – readers will not feel condescended to.

         The science of “responsible beekeeping” is presented in an appealing manner as an example of environmental stewardship. Beekeepers’ perspectives on bees and their own work are presented with photographs. A photo of a man with a bee beard is particularly striking, and close-up photographs of larvae will appeal to readers looking for the gross-out factor in science.
    Absorbing, cheerful, and easy to read, the book’s main drawback is the lack of explicitly comparative illustrations and identifying markers of the different bee species, allowing readers to easily identify the bees they find in their neighbourhoods.

         The author, Kari-Lynn Winters, was an elementary school teacher before completing her doctoral degree in literacy education. She currently teaches in Brock University’s Department of Teacher Education. She has several picture books and poetry books published; more are forthcoming. Recommended.

    Janet Eastwood is a student in the Master of Children’s Literature program at the University of British Columbia.

  • Selected books: Recommended by Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids and Teens 2013 (Fall, 2013), p. 32:

    This book offers an in-depth look at an endangered and vital part of the natural world. A world without bees would mean a world where the food supply would be significantly diminished and fewer plants and trees would exist. Studying the history, social structure and science behind the world of bees and honey is an important part of bee-conservation efforts around the world.

  • Review in School Library Journal, by Patricia Manning (July 1, 2013), online at

    Gr 3–5.   Opening with a true/false quiz, and including a recipe for a throat gargle, instructions for making a nesting site for orchard mason bees (one a very finished product and another using a tin can and some bamboo), and a list of foods that would be unavailable if bees disappeared, this attractive book will be welcomed by classroom teachers and homeschooling parents alike. Kids will enjoy the crisp color photos and diagrams, and all readers will find the informative text easy to digest. Winters touches on the physical makeup of a typical bee; the lifestyles of social, solitary, and “communal” bees; bee homes; and even “killer” bees. She also includes a warning chapter on the environmental conditions (many man-made) that are stressing bee populations globally, and on the catastrophic CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) syndrome. For those seeking more projects and related ideas, pair this title with Deborah Hodge’s simpler Bees (KidsCan, 2004) for a honey of a unit.

      — Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

  • Review, by Tanya Boudreau (March 2013), online at

    ****/4   With contributions by several bee researchers and advocates, Winters (Gift Days; Jeffrey and Sloth) has written a beautiful and informative book about bees. The six chapters give an in-depth look at bee anatomy, social structure, life cycle, and pollination.

    The book begins with a look at bees and their role in early civilizations. Cave paintings, hieroglyphics, and medicine prove bees were important throughout history.

    The contents in chapter two will help children identify the basic body parts of bees (eyes, antennae, stingers, wings, mouthparts). A double-page spread in chapter three compares five different types of bees (carpenter, mining, leafcutter, honey, and mason bees).

    After the author touches on colony collapse disorder in chapter six, she describes ten things individuals can do to keep the environment bee-friendly. Alongside short paragraphs of information, additional facts are presented in charts, graphs, and colorful (labeled) photographs and illustrations.

    Activities such as a true or false bee test, a recipe using honey, directions for building a nesting site, and a questionnaire that determines if the reader would have been a suitable pre-historic honey hunter enrich the learning opportunities that come with reading this book. Back material includes a twenty-six word glossary, an extensive index, and online and book resources for further study.

    A definite recommendation for a school or public library.

  • Brian’s Bee Beard blog review, by Kathy Keatley Garvey for the University of California Garden Web (August 22, 2013), online at

    It’s good to see so many children’s books being published about bees.

    One of the latest ones is Buzz About Bees (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) by former elementary school teacher Kari-Lynn Winters, who asked for — and received — one of my photos of beekeeper Brian Fishback of Wilton wearing a bee beard.

    Fishback, a former volunteer at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, is a past president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers’ Association and spends a lot of time educating people—especially schoolchildren—about bees. He also teaches beekeeping classes.

     “From the first moment I opened a hive and held a full frame of brood covered with bees, I was in utopia,” Fishback said of his first encounter with bees in 2008. “Everything came together. In my hand I held the essence of core family values.”

    As for Winters’ new book, it’s a colorful, easy-to-read work with lots of interesting facts about honey bees and other bees. … This is an interesting book, with catchy chapter titles, such as “”The Whole Ball of Wax” and “Bee-Ing Alone.” We passed it around in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. One bee scientist really liked the “Waggle Dance” poem on page 2. “Pretty good,” he said.

    In addition to honey bees, Winters also touches on carpenter bees, mining bees, leafcutter bees and mason bees, which should inspire youngsters to go out and try to find them. She relates the difference between bees and wasps. She offers instruction on how to build a blue orchard bee (BOB) condo or nesting site (which we have in our back yard). There’s a fun game, “Leave Me BEE,” included in her book. And, a great recipe for a honey/lemon gargle.

    By the time children finish reading the book, they’re likely to (1) want to become an  beekeeper (2) want to become a bee researcher or  (3) just want to glean more information about bees.

    For sure, they’ll all appreciate bees more, thanks to this buzz about bees.

    Wilton beekeeper Brian Fishback wearing a bee beard at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. This photo appeared in Kari-Lynn Winters' book, Buzz About Bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
    Wilton beekeeper Brian Fishback wearing a bee beard at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. This photo appeared in Kari-Lynn Winters’ book, Buzz About Bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

    Hi, there! Wilton beekeeper Brian Fishback waves. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
    Hi, there! Wilton beekeeper Brian Fishback waves. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

  • Review by Carolyn Phelan, in American Library Association Booklist Online (date), online at

    This hodgepodge of bee-related information leads off with a “True or False” quiz, a note on bees in prehistoric petroglyphs and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, and a recipe for “a Honey/Lemon Gargle.” The chapters that follow present the anatomy and classification of bees as well as the lives of social and solitary types. Winters discusses bee mobility, their role in pollination, and the alarming rate of decline in recent years. Readers are advised on ways that they can help. The presentation is lively, if a bit scattershot, though the inclusion of games and activities is a plus. The information on danced communication is presented in a rhyming poem with five verses. Pun lovers will be in their element: chapter titles such as “Bee-n There, Done That”; page headings like “Getting Bee-gger”; and even puns within the text (“The disappearance of bees would have stinging effects”). The many colorful illustrations include some very good photos as well as digital diagrams and pictures. For larger collections.

  • Review, in Sal’s Fiction Addiction (June 15, 2013), online at

    “In medieval times, people would soak bandages in honey in order to reduce joint swelling and cure cataracts. Some of these honey cures continue to be used for health purposes today. For example, honey is a primary ingredient in several cough syrups and drops. And when a person has laryngitis (an inflamed larynx), a common home remedy…”

    It seems that we have numerous books in the past few years concerning bees and their benefits. Albert Einstein recognized this and made the scientific and greater community aware of it when he said: “If bees disappeared, humans would have only 4 years left to live.”

    That should give each one of us pause!

    A quick look at the table of contents allows readers a glimpse at Kari-Lynn Winters’ sense of humor. Chapter titles are: Bee-n There, Done That, The Whole Ball of Wax, Bee-ing Together, Bee-ing Alone, Bees of the World, Disperse and finally, Stinging Effects on the World. In addition, the chapters include such subjects as To Be or Not To Bee, The Bee’s Knees, and my personal favorite (with a bow to Mr. Gandhi) Bee The Change the World Needs.

    Sure to give her target audience incentive to jump from place to place in the book in order to check out what might be most interesting, this book will inform and entertain with a wealth of current data. It begins with a quiz, an inviting challenge for those who wonder about the value of bees and their contributions to our lives as we live them. The author provides lots of detail about their physiology and the way that they work together. Using clear captioned photographs and clearly drawn and labelled diagrams, she lets her readers know about the relationship between bees and humans.

    By educating ourselves and others concerning bees, their habitats and the benefits that they bring to our lives, we can encourage badly needed change. We can create gardens that will attract them, support local beekeepers by buying their honey, realize the significance of pollutants as hazards to a healthy bee population. There are instructions for building a nesting site, a gargle recipe and even a game…all add appeal.

    A glossary and index are included, and a list of books that help build knowledge and understanding.

  • “Non-fiction holds plenty of intrigue,” by Beverley Brenna, in The Star Phoenix (May 4, 2013), online at

    The power of non-fiction in motivating kids to read has often been overlooked in settings where access to non-fiction titles has been limited to research projects. A traditional view of children’s reading is that early experiences with books facilitate learning to read and then, later, other experiences support reading to learn. Some new non-fiction resources bolster a different view. From young ages, children can gain interesting and useful information as they are read to, as they explore pictures and as they begin to decode text that matters to them. Fluent readers can find plenty to enjoy in non-fiction titles chosen for esthetic reading as well as reading for information. …

    Kari-Lynn Winters’ Buzz About Bees (Fitzhenry & Whiteside hardcover, $19.95) demonstrates mastery in design and formatting, with text boxes, layered photographs and colour used capably to enhance meaning. Instead of facing large sections of difficult text, a tradition in less contemporary titles, this book offers bits of information in manageable pieces, smartly employing titles and captions as well as passages of various lengths.

    In addition to its surface appeal, Buzz About Bees virtually hums with interesting facts. For example, did you know that bees have five eyes? Or that a desert biologist named Justin Schmidt has taken on the job of getting stung by bees around the world so that he can create a pain index? Or that some bees feed their babies bee bread – a mixture of nectar, pollen and saliva? Highly recommended for ages seven and up (the book, not the bee bread!).

  • “Books for children: New titles explore the great outdoors,” by Brenda Hoerle, in The Record (May 03 2013), online at

    Seeing snow and a mosquito in the same week just isn’t right. But temperatures have climbed since last week, thankfully.

    To celebrate, here’s are some spring reads that will complement your children’s desire to be outdoors enjoying the start of a new season:

    The essential contribution bees make to our environment — thanks to their keen pollination skills — is described in Buzz About Bees (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $19.95 hardcover).

    The decline of honeybees due to colony collapse disorder is what inspired St. Catharines author Kari-Lynn Winters to draw attention to this topic.

    As she writes: “Fewer bees means smaller harvests and higher food prices.” She even references Albert Einstein’s claim that, “If bees disappeared, humans would have only four years left to live.”

    This book has marvellous close-ups, fascinating facts and suggestions to boost the number of busy bees in your backyard. It’s a great read for ages seven and up.

    They were living on Earth some 300 million years before the dinosaurs came along and today dragonflies can be found in forests, fields — and even in your backyard. In fact, the Globe Skimmer species lives on every continent except Antarctica.


  • See an interactive website designed by Dave Potts, “The Life Cycle of a Bee,” in Kids activities.

  • Download the Buzz About Bees Teacher’s Guide, written by Sonja Sweet (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2013): BuzzAboutBeesTeachersGuide.doc [5MB].

  • Online bee resources

      Book Reference List for Further Bee Research:

      • Buchmann, S. (2006). Letters From the Hive. New York: Bantam.
      • Fisher, R. (2010). Bee. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
      • Griffin, B. (1993). The Orchard Mason Bee. Bellingham, WA: Knox Cedars Publishing.
      • Packer, L. (2010). Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are At Risk And What We Can Do To Save Them. Toronto: Harper Collins.
      • Pundyk, G. (2008). The Honey Trail. New York: St. Marten’s Press.
      • Winston, M. (1987). The Biology of the Honey Bee. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


      Other Book Resources for Children:

      • Burns, L. (2010). The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
      • Cole, J. & Degen, B. (1996). The Magic School Bus: Inside A Beehive. New York: Scholastic Press.
      • Howard, F. (2005). Bumble Bees. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.
      • Rotner, S. & Woodhull, A. (2010). The Buzz On Bees: Why Are They Disappearing? New York: Holiday House.

Kari reads from Buzz about Bees for World Read-Aloud Day 2014

“I Love Bees” video (a spoof of eHarmony’s I Love Cats)

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