These Bees Count!
written by Alison Formento; illustrated by Sarah Snow
2012 (Albert Whitman & Company)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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Mr. Tate's class is taking a field trip to the Busy Bee Farm. Though lacking in cows and horses, the farm has plenty of wildflowers. Farmer Ellen explains "We farm bees and honey." Before exploring the bee farm, the students put on their beekeeper gear. The first stop is a field full of tall boxes called apiaries or bee houses. This book is full of cool vocabulary words like apiaries. Farmer Ellen tells the group about pollination and how bees carry the pollen to plants. Using a smoker, she sends the bees out of the house so the students can see them and hear the buzz. The excellent author's note in the back explains that bees' wings flap over ten thousand times a minute which creates the buzz. Being told to listen to what the bees are saying, the class hears a counting song involving different plants calling to the bees. Fruit trees and bushes, poppies and peapods are some of the plants anxiously waiting for a visit from their bee benefactors. Finally, Farmer Ellen explains the process of how bees convert liquid nectar into honey. It's not pretty, but who cares when you're craving a peanut butter and honey sandwich. The wooden frames containing honeycombs are placed into an extractor which spins the honey. As they are getting back on the bus, lucky field trip participants carry home a jar of honey.
These Bees Count! is a terrific resource for teaching about bees, plants, and food products. You can teach skills such as sequencing and using a graphic organizer with the text. With a kindergarten class, I would create a circle map in the shape of a bee and have students share their background knowledge before reading the book and then collect responses as you read and after reading. Older students could create a flow chart showing the steps of honey creation. You should definitely print this excellent teacher's guide for the book. Sarah Snow's cut paper illustrations and Alison Formento's gentle and informative story make this book the "bee's knees". Feel free to groan audibly.