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.
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;
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.
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.
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.