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What's the Buzz?

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For Christopher, who brought bees into our life, and for Akai, whose curiosity about them was the reason for this book.


This is me beside one of the beehives in my garden. CHRISTOPHER BUTTERFIELD

Early one summer morning a few years ago, I loaded my first beehive into the back of my car near where I live in Victoria, British Columbia. John, the beekeeper who sold it to me, had plugged the entrance, but a few bees that had already left the hive were now coming back with pollen and nectar and trying to get into their home. I got the giggles as I drove home with a car full of honey bees—several thousand of them safely inside the hive, but quite a few that were flying around in the car!

John and I carried the hive to a sunny spot in the garden and opened up the entrance. He gave me an old beekeeper’s veil to protect my head, leather gloves for my hands, and a hive tool to use for moving things around in the hive. Then he took off the lid and gave me my first lesson in beekeeping. After that, I was on my own.

Many mistakes and only a few stings later, I now have six hives. And I have learned so much—not just about honey bees, but also about all the wild bees that live with us and how much we depend on them. I’ve also learned how human activities have harmed them, and how badly they now need our help to survive.

This book will take you into the busy world of bees. You don’t need a veil or gloves to be amazed—just come with me!