The best books about bees

8 authors have picked their favorite books about bees and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees

By Thor Hanson,

Why this book?

Perhaps more than any other group of animals, the 20,000 (or more) known bee species make the case that much of evolution is about the diversification of ways in which species interact with each other species and form coevolutionary alliances. In this book, scientist/naturalist Thor Hanson gives us a whirlwind tour of that diversity, showing us that honeybees are just the tip of the iceberg of the many relationships between bees and plants. As with the other authors on this list, Hanson is a reliable guide with a passion and wonder for whatever he chooses to study and write about,…

From the list:

The best books on coevolution and relentless evolution

Book cover of Wee Bees and The Bee Attitudes

Wee Bees and The Bee Attitudes

By Marcia Papa,

Why this book?

An adorable book for younger children to learn proper values that help to spread kindness to all including themselves. Teaching kids to be nice, caring, and considerate will help them identify ways of being kind to their family, friends, and those around them.
From the list:

The best children’s books where kindness wins every time

Book cover of The Honeybee

The Honeybee

By Kirsten Hall, Isabelle Arsenault (illustrator),

Why this book?

I have found no other picture book as fun to read, access, and as beautifully illustrated as The Honeybee. The book takes us through the seasons and highlights the life and responsibilities of a black and yellow striped, smiling, buzzing, zooming, dancing honeybees. The rhythmic pattern of text and well-crafted vocabulary is delightful to read aloud, yet simple enough for little ones to follow along. The illustrations are exquisite with pops of neon yellow ink scattered throughout the book, calling attention to the pollen being collected and then turn into honey. This book is a wonderful celebration of the…

From the list:

The best children’s books on extraordinary animals

Book cover of Garden Animals

Garden Animals

By Lucy Cousins,

Why this book?

Garden Animals by Lucy Cousins was our number one favorite when my daughters were babies. The graphic images of small friends they might meet in their own garden were loved. Hand-lettered with rough edges, characters pop from the pages with their own free renderings. Counting the bee on the cover, there are only 12 words to the work, and with many, many readings, we created a spoken rhythm for Lucy’s creatures. Today, we can all still recite Garden Animals with delight.

From the list:

The best board books to cut your teeth on

Book cover of Bees: Their Vision, Chemical Senses, and Language

Bees: Their Vision, Chemical Senses, and Language

By Karl Von Frisch,

Why this book?

I received this book from my father as a Christmas present at age 16, in 1956. The author is a Professor of Zoology who made one of the most stunning discoveries of biology of the last century: honeybees communicate direction and distance of a food source they had found to their hive-mates, within the darkness of their hive.

The code involves the movements of their bodies in a "dance," that gives directions with respect to the position of the sun, but at the same time that position shifts with time, the bees without seeing it take into account its movement…

From the list:

The best books on nature and the study of life

Book cover of Ways to Welcome

Ways to Welcome

By Linda Ashman, Joey Chou (illustrator),

Why this book?

So often we address the “what” and “why” but not the “how.” Ways to Welcome is all about the “how.” Just how can we make others feel included? I love the specific examples in this book—from waves, smiles, and “hellos” to cups of tea, bouquets of flowers, and retrieving a lost hat. We even see ways we can welcome dogs, bees, and birds. The rhyming text is buoyant, and the illustrations are bold and bright. This book positively exudes warmth!

From the list:

The best children’s books that create a sense of belonging

Book cover of If I Were a Tree

If I Were a Tree

By Andrea Zimmerman, Jing Jing Tsong (illustrator),

Why this book?

Behind weeds, trees are perhaps the most common plant many kids will encounter in their day to day lives, and another way children can access nature near home and school. And while trees are complex living things at the apex of the plant kingdom, they often are unnoticed and underappreciated. This beautiful lyrical picture book gives children a context to explore what a tree can do through kid-sized comparisons to what children can also do. Use it to help children explore one of the most common features of both urban and rural landscapes: trees.

From the list:

The best books to get kids outside and exploring nature

Book cover of Chalice


By Robin McKinley,

Why this book?

The world in Chalice isn’t flat. Or spherical. Or any particular shape. This is a world of little bubble domains embedded in surrounding chaos and the story is all about protecting one of those domains. This book is like a dream. It’s slow and graceful and, well, dreamy. I like the bees. And the honey. I’m not especially fond of honey in the real world, but I love the honey in this story. Some stories are instant “comfort reads". Chalice is one of those. It’s like wrapping up in a fuzzy robe in front of a fire with a mug…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels that sweep you into a very strange world

Book cover of Honeybee Democracy

Honeybee Democracy

By Thomas D. Seeley,

Why this book?

Social insects live in close communities, often of several thousand individuals. We often imagine the animals as small robots that perform their tasks as if automated. But this is far from the case. Honeybees are models for the study of learning and can also make complex decisions based on previous experience. However, it becomes particularly difficult when all the animals of a hive have to agree. And bees of a swarm have this difficult task ahead of them when they are looking for real estate. They inspect the nesting opportunities in the surroundings and advertise them in the swarm.


From the list:

The best books on the evolution of insect and human societies

Book cover of Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

By Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann (illustrator),

Why this book?

This book became a “wow” moment for me as it celebrates the life of a honey bee. “Can I fly now?” the bee wants to know. With poetic language and exquisite close-up illustrations, the reader has to wait, just like the bee, who has only 35 days to get through many chores before she can fly off for the final flower and honey mission. Who could ever swat a busy bee after reading this amazing life story? Extra information is provided about the special skills and plight of our important pollinators.  

From the list:

The best children’s books that get readers thinking about a “wow” moment that may spark a lifetime of investigation

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