“Just want to help”

How many times have I heard those four words from anklebitter 1? And how many times have I been given the puppy-dog stare after utterance of such sentiment with some type of mess lurking in the vicinity? Scenarios all too common for parents and I leave it to you to reminisce. But I bring you these four words today to introduce this week’s book, Bee & Me by Elle J. McGuinness and Heather Brown.

In a rhyming cadence with gorgeous 2 page spreads, the story is about the importance of honeybees. A startled bee flees into a house and invokes fear in a young boy. With no shoe in sight, the boy, hides behind the door until the bee starts to speak. The bee then educates the boy beyond honey production and focuses on the contribution of pollination.

“There’d be no more apples, no flowers to smell. Still, you humans decide you don’t like us that well.” And then from her eye came a big, shiny tear. “We just want to help but you all run in fear.”

With newfound knowledge, the boy promises to respect the bee. The book includes points of interest about bees (e.g. bees can’t fly in the rain) and ways to help bees (e.g. bees are attracted to blue and purple flowers).

Honeybees are cool. “They wiggle, they waggle, they jiggle and jive” to communicate flower locations to other bees. Their wing strokes (200 beats per second) create their characteristic hum. One bee collects half her weight in pollen from 50 to 100 flowers in a single trip.  The most astonishing fact, for me, is that honeybees help grow one-third of the food we eat. That almond in your cherubic hand? Thank a bee. But them bees have it hard (honeybee colony collapse disorder, anyone?).

Somehow, our urban jungle, however, has allowed the bee to proliferate (but not without hiccups). Thus, I like the book because it reminds me that urban apiaries or urban beekeeping is a community pollination service to all the fruit and vegetable gardens in the neighbourhood. It helps me connect the dots for the boys about local food, eating with the seasons as well as the bigger issues of human-induced devastation of the bee population. Anklebitter 1 enjoys the book because not only does it have several Animotion moving pictures (“The boy is waving bye bye”) but he also knows some rooftop honey and toast are never too far behind.

(Photo by Vivian Romero from the book Bee & Me, Elle J. McGuinness with Heather Brown)

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Vivian Romero

I want to activate the urban imagined: stimulating, healthy and sustainable spaces for all (especially the young and young at heart).

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