Bruno the Beekeeper – Perfect Picture Book Friday

I came across Bruno and his grandmother while I was doing a little research about bees. And what a treat! Translated from Czech, it’s a budding apiarist’s dream.

orig text/illus ©Aneta Františka Holasová
translation ©Andrew Lass

The book’s preface explains how Bruno inherited his bees and how Grandma (yes, a human Grandma) now helps Bruno with his work.

Arranged at the beginning a bit like a textbook, we find a comparison between the different types of honeybees (queen, worker, drone) and other flying insects like hornets, wasps, and flies; depictions of the differences in metamorphosis for a worker bees, drones, and queens, along with their differing anatomies;

One of three spreads on bee anatomy
orig text/Illustration ©Aneta Františka Holasová translation ©Andrew Lass

the components of a manmade beehive; beekeeper clothing; and a variety of creatures that eat bees or are parasitic (the dreaded tracheal and varroa mites that have cause tremendous damage to wild honeybees).

Then we move through the seasons, with Bruno and Grandma performing their beekeeping tasks, starting in late summer/early fall when they remove the combs in the supers (the tops of the hives where bees make honey) and provide bees with food to keep them well fed over winter. We learn how bees make wax, and how Bruno harvests the wax to make candles. We also learn about a substance called propolis (bee cement) that bees make and can also be used to make a healing ointment for skin.

orig text/Illustration ©Aneta Františka Holasová translation ©Andrew Lass
Removing the supers (the tops of the hives where bees make their honey) for winter
orig text/Illustration ©Aneta Františka Holasová translation ©Andrew Lass

In the winter, Bruno checks on his hives to make sure they’re doing well (listening for humming with something that looks like a stethoscope), and he mends and makes new frames for honeycombs.

In the spring, flowers like currants, snowdrop, and liverwort bloom, while Bruno gives his bees a food supplement made from sugar and honey that will tide them over until the summer bloom. Bruno marks the queen with an identifying tag, and builds up his hives, placing supers on top for the summer season.

At the end of summer, Bruno harvests the honey, showing the step by step process.

Is this a children’s book? you may ask. I would say that it depends on the child and how in-depth you go during the read-through. The often whimsical illustrations can be “read” and enjoyed without digging deep into the text. I enjoyed it immensely as an adult, so if you know someone who has a specific interest in bees, this would make a lovely gift.

Many of the illustrations are a wonder. I tried to take decent photos of them, but the colors and delicacy of the images defied capture, so the ones I’ve shown are ones that were provided by Candlewick on Amazon.

A shout out to Candlewick for publishing this book in English. It’s truly lovely. The end papers show bees swarming in such a way as to look like gold dust sprinkling the pages.

Activities:

Pair this book with other picture books about bees, including The Secret Life of Bees (2021) by Moira Butterfield and illustrated by Vivian Mineker, or The Bee Book (2018) by Charlotte Milner.

Make your own honeybees crafts.

Plant bee-friendly plants in your yard or garden.

Title: Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer

Author/Illustrator: Aneta Františka Holasová

Translator: Andrew Lass

Publisher: Candlewick, 2021

Themes: bees, beekeeping, seasons

Ages: Elementary school to adult

For more perfect picture books, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

7 thoughts on “Bruno the Beekeeper – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Patricia Tilton says:

    I love the depth this beautiful book goes into — but I love stories about bees. The illustrations are warm and friendly. You feel like you’re watching Bruno at work. I didn’t realize we could use the photos from the publisher posted to Amazon — with credit. In the past, I always went to the author and that’s not always possible. I’ve noticed that Candlewick has been translating/publishing books from other countries.

  2. Patricia Tilton says:

    I love the depth this beautiful book goes into — but I love stories about bees. The illustrations are warm and friendly. You feel like you’re watching Bruno at work. I didn’t realize we could use the photos from the publisher posted to Amazon — with credit. In the past, I always went to the author and that’s not always possible. I’ve noticed that Candlewick has been publishing/ translating books from other countries.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes, I’m thinking that Candlewick is trying to bring more international books to a U.S. audience, enlarging out perspective. And I’m really glad that there’s new guidelines for crediting the translator, something that Candlewick does not do on the cover here. I love the illustrations, and I keep dipping back into it just to enjoy the experience. The images on the end papers that I mentioned are really delicate and beautiful. A gorgeous book!

  3. Joanna says:

    So agree about this being a great gift. I met a local bee keeper recently who would love this. I always enjoy European picture books, and love the details here.

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