That “bee” your child is running from may be a mimic! Read local author Audrey Sauble’s new picture book to learn how to tell the difference, plus check out these fun events for the little naturalist in your life.
It’s a yellow insect with black stripes.
It’s buzzing around a flower.
It’s a honeybee, right?
Or maybe not!
I’m a parent, and over the past couple of years, I’ve read a variety of picture books about bees to my kids—everything from cute stories about bees looking for flowers to longer books about scientists studying honey bee diseases. As we read the books, I noticed that all these books focused on honeybees. (Okay, a few talked about bumblebees as well.)
As we read, I also started noticing that some of the “bees” we saw in photos weren’t bees at all, much less honeybees. Hover flies can look a lot like bees, and people often mistake them for bees. And not all bees look like honeybees either.
Next time you watch those yellow insects hovering next to a flower, you may start to notice that some have wide, round eyes. Those are flies, not bees. You may also spot some small, shiny insects crawling through the petals on the flowers. If those insects have narrow faces and long antennae, they just might be a bee, even though they look nothing like a honeybee.
As I read picture books to my kids, I started reading other books on my own and learning about these other bees and the bee mimics that borrow honey bee stripes to avoid predators. I even joined the Oregon Bee Atlas this spring—an organization that is working to find and study all the species of bees in Oregon.
Besides being a parent, I’m also a children’s author & illustrator. So, as I learned more about these other bees, I started drawing them and writing about them. This eventually turned into A Bee or Not a Bee?, a nonfiction picture book that teaches kids about both bees and bee mimics. A Bee or Not a Bee? will be released on June 20 (the first day of National Pollinators week). You can find out more about it on my website.
Events for Little Naturalists
I’m also an aspiring naturalist who loves getting kids excited about nature. Over the next month, I’m going to be part of several events in the Portland area, talking about bees and insect identification in general.
I’d love to have you stop by one of these events, say hi, and learn more about bees!
Look for bees at Tryon Creek State Natural Area on June 21, 9:00-12:00. I’m volunteering at the nature center welcome desk all morning, so stop by to say hi and pick up a scavenger hunt. Then head out to explore the trails and see what bees and flowers you can find in the forest.
Join a story time at the Booktique on June 23 at 11 am. The Booktique and Friends of Lake Oswego Library are hosting a kids’ story time to celebrate National Pollinators Week. The event is at the Booktique, 4 Monroe Pkwy, Suite D, Lake Oswego, OR 97035. Space is limited, so please call 503-699-9109 to sign up.
Learn about bees and other pollinators during a Family Forest Day at Hoyt Arboretum, June 25, 11am-2pm. This is a free event with activities for ages 5-12, but all ages are invited to come and explore the forest and learn about pollinators.
Visit Tryon Creek for a Story & Stroll event on July 7 at 10am. We’ll read A Bee or Not a Bee?, and then head out for a short hike to look for bees and other pollinators. Check the Tryon Creek calendar for registration information and updates.
Explore the free Science Geek Out Fest at the Beaverton Library on July 10, 2pm-4pm. I’ll be showing how to identify a bee, while other local organizations will be demonstrating robots, engineering challenges, and other STEM topics.
Read about bees and take a guided tour at Hoyt Arboretum on July 13, 10:30am-12:00pm. We’ll read A Bee or Not a Bee? and then explore the trails, looking for bees and other pollinators. Registration is required. Adults attend free with a child, and fees includes a signed copy of A Bee or Not a Bee?
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