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Not long ago we were reading a book called Project X; The Swarm. It is a really fun combining science and fantasy with detailed facts about bees as well as a miniature bee shaped helicopter for Team X and robot copies of worker bees used by an evil super villain. Although it is fiction, the information about bees in not. However, my sons both refused to believe me when I said the part about the bees doing the waggle dance was true. It conjures images of a line of bees doing the conga while shaking there back sides - which is about what my sons did while laughing at Mom being so silly as to believe it.
Naturally - I went straight to Amazon and found a book - not so much to prove myself right, but because we do like to include non fiction with our fiction books, and I feel children remember facts better when presented in a context of something they like. They will certainly remember the waggle dance :)
Honey Bees Hive is published by a company I was completely unfamiliar with Ticktock Entertainment as part of a series called Minibeast Worlds. I do prefer to go with a series I know will give me a good quality book, like Usborne or DK, but didn't find anything for either at the time, and Amazon does have a look inside feature for this book which allowed me to view the table of contents and make sure this included the waggle dance, as well as get a general idea of the overall quality of the book. Additionally - the price was quite at at only £2.81 including delivery charges.
Honey Bees Hive is large paperback book with top notch photography reminiscent of DK's books. The text is very large and well spaced, but often printed in reverse with white on black or black over yellow. Personally I would not care to read large amounts of text in reverse, I find it slightly distracting, but these are short easy to read paragraphs and this did not give my son any problems. Thankfully there is no text over patterned backgrounds, which can prove quite confusing to new readers. I would guess the reading level to correspond with Oxfords level 10 or perhaps slightly higher. Some examples of the words I feel a newer reader is mostly likely to find difficult - or be unfamiliar with include "infertile", "contribute" and "repetitions". If your child can read these, they should be fine with this, but of course a parent can read this to a younger child and my 4 year old enjoyed this as well.
The book begins with a brief description of what honey bees are, where they live and what they eat. A huge magnified picture shows us the main parts of a bees body. My sons really loved this. It looks so much more fuzzy up close and really quite cute. The wings are a lovely gossamer as well. We then learn about hives, and types of bee ( queen worker and drone). The text tells us about the different jobs of different types of bee and shows the development of larvae. My sons really liked the photos of the nursery cells and the young bees emerging from these. The picture of someone being stung was also interesting - someone must have been stung deliberately for the photo. Better them than us!
No book on bees would be complete without flowers and pollination, and this has some brilliant pictures, but not as much in depth info as we would have liked and I've had to order a separate book to get more detail. The magnification of pollen is brilliant though. I was surprised to learn that the bees use the sun to navigate, including its direction and height in the sky. Exactly how they know this - I really don't know, but I'll take their word for it. The section I was most interested in was of course the waggle dance and this is really quite detailed. It is a figure 8 shape with the butt pointed out the whole time. Apparently the speed of the dance and fluttering of the wings communicates other information such as distance, and quality of the food source. Of course there is also mention of honey production , but again it is rather limited. Then again, if you want your child to continue eating foods with honey you mightn't want to much detail.
Although based on Honey Bees, this book does include brief information on on a few different types of bee as well as bee mimics. It does not mention killer bees. It very briefly mentions that pollination helps plants produce seeds, but nothing of how important this is to mankind. Aside from the picture of the bee sting and a second picture showing swelling after a sting - there is nothing in this book to frighten a child. A few children might find this alone frightening, but overall I feel the book could help to alleviate the fear of bees for a child. It does point out that a bee dies after stinging someone - so a parent can stress the fact that bee doesn't really want to sting to you. The pictures also make bees look cute rather than frightening.
Our very favourite part of this book is the photography in general, but there is one picture which lwe iked even more than the rest. It is a an extreme close up - I believe using a microscope of a bees head. It looks a bit like a space alien you can see every hair, long teeth like structures, what looks like a nose and of course the large eyes and antenna. This book is very general - if you required highly detailed information you will be dissapointed with this text. Still I believe this is really intended for younger children, I fell this would best suit ages 4 - 8. A younger child might enjoy the pictures still, and to be honest I still found this book interesting, but if buying for a child over age 8 I would choose a book with more detailed text. I wavered between 4 and 5 stars for this book and eventually settled on 5. If considering this book for an 7- 8 year old, I would give the text 4 stars, but I would give it 5 stars if it were for a child of 4-6 and the photographs easily earn a 5+. I would have liked a few more details on some areas, but then too much detail can put very young child off as well, and I have ordered a second book in this series Army Ants Attack, so I feel if it is good enough to chose another book, it should warrant 5 stars.