The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery
By: Sandra Markle
Publisher: Lerner Publishing
Publicationn Date: August 2013
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2013
Dave Hackenberg had been a beekeeper for most of his life and he’d never encountered anything quite so mysterious or scary in all his life. In October of 2006, he went to check on his hives. Instead of encountering vibrant colonies, he was shocked to find devastated ones. A hive in which he fully expected to find “thirty thousand bees,” he “only found the bee colony’s egg-laying queen and her brood.” Hackenberg began to move from hive to hive, encountering a similar scenario. Something was terribly wrong. Where had all of those worker bees gone to? It was a mystery that would play itself out around the country.
No honeybees? You might think to yourself that it isn’t much of a problem because after all, there are a lot of extinct species. Not so fast, because without those little honeybees you might become one of them yourself. For one thing, without them “you could be limited to eating oats, rice, and corn.” Not much of a selection, but that would be it. Honeybees pollinate a wide variety of plants, plants that could not reproduce without their help. You’ll learn all about this honeybee/plant mutual admiration society and how they work together for the benefit of the both of them and us.
Back to the mystery of those bees. In 2007 many beekeepers who experienced the same issues as Dave Hackenberg got together to compare notes. It was certainly a frightening problem and they “named the mysterious loss of their bees Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD.” This was a widespread disorder and beekeepers around the world “were losing about 30 percent of their hives” or more. The honeybee workers weren’t deserting their posts, they were dying off. Total destruction of the honeybee population could only mean one thing ... “people could go hungry.”
You’ll learn all about hives, the colony, the queen bee, and just why the function of that worker bee is so important in and out of the hive. Everything from their little housekeeping tasks to making honey is critical to the survival of the entire colony. Scientists and beekeepers have explored a lot of potential reasons for CCD. Perhaps their habitats had changed dramatically. It just could be that they are overworked or have been under attack from mites and viruses. Have your electronic devices been part of the problem? In this book you’ll read all about the life of the valuable honeybee and explore the reasons why they could be vanishing from the landscape.
This is a fascinating look at the mysterious disappearance of the honeybee. This story is a mix of science and mystery, a combination that young readers love. The story is very engaging and the layout exciting. The pages are alive with honeybees at work, beekeepers, and a map depicting the lives of a “Traveling Honeybee Colony.” The reader will learn about the life of the honeybee workers, why they are so important to the ecosystem, and will be taking a look at the various problems that could be contributing to colony collapse. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, honeybee facts, information on how to help local honeybees, a listing of “Global Rescue Efforts,” and additional book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: Young science buffs will love the combination of science, mystery, and intrigue when they read about these vanishing honeybees!