Bees — and Books about Them! September 27 2023
Can there ever be too many books for the young about bees? In our time of worries about the diminishing number of bees in the world, stories that help us all, children especially, to feel connected to bees through appreciation and gratitude, through love, are important. Fostering a lifelong sense of wonder and protectiveness for these tiny creatures who give us honey, nourishment, bees wax, and who pollinate fruit trees, herbs, and all flowering plants is imperative to the bees and our own survival.
Gunther Hauk is a lifelong bee champion of bees. In Waldorf, Biodynamic, and Anthroposophical circles, Gunther is recognized as an expert on bees. Spikenard Farm in Virginia is a tract of land and is devoted to protecting bees — a sanctuary for bees — which Gunther established in 2009. Gunther Hauk’s new children’s book titled simply, The Swarm, tells the story of a little girl, Susie, and her grandpa, who explore together the magical event of a swarm appearing near them. An ideal book for children aged four through ten and beyond, the story tells of a child who has a fear of bees from a sting she got as she stepped on a bee in the grass. Her grandfather tends to the sting as he tells her of the life of bees. If someone stepped on one of us, we might fight back a little out of shock and alarm!
When a swarm gathers on branches near to their home, the grandfather sets out to gather the bees into a new hive, safer for them than the wild branches in the outdoors. When Susie is afraid, he coaxes her to understand that there is no need to be afraid. Bees are our friends. He helps her to reach out and touch the swarm gently. She discovers that it’s warm, and her fear disappears! The surprise at the warmth and active hum of the lively bees gives way to a tender affection for the bees. She helps her grandfather to relocate the swarm in a hive where they can help the bees and keep them fed and safe. The book comes with a caution to not try to manage bees without understanding them first. Once understood, bees might not require heavy protection and fear-filled equipment.
Stories like this along with several fine books published by Waldorf Publications, help the young, and all of us, understand the relationship of bees to our human world. They encourage careful attentiveness and understanding about bees. Jakob Streit’s books, published by Waldorf Publications, The Bee Book, and Little Bee Sunbeam, tell marvelous stories that educate thoroughly about the nature, life cycles, and work of the bees. Leonore Russell’s illustrated story, Honey Bee Haven, tells of a place where bees are safely tended, and children can come to visit.
Can there ever be too many books about bees? Perhaps not. We human beings have so much to learn about our relationship to these sunshine-bearing nurturers of living things providing nourishment for us! We can read and read and still know that there are mysteries to be discovered about bees and how and why they do what they do for us. At this time of crisis in the sunshine kingdom of bees, they need our help, and we need to learn how to help them without hurting them (or ourselves!). Stories teach us how in a most delightful way.
The book by Gunther Hauk, and the stories by Jakob Street teach gently not to try to do things with bees before we really understand them. We can get stung, of course, if we plunge in too quickly and make the bees feel disrupted or endangered. Cautious, careful, fearlessness is in order when it comes to bees. This offers a metaphor for all relationships, really. Cultivating these courageous and considerate feelings deep in our hearts starts best in early years, giving them a lifetime to deepen, strengthen, and grow. Starting whenever we can, however, is a good idea.