Cover image for Honeybee : the busy life of apis mellifera
Honeybee : the busy life of apis mellifera
1st ed.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 30 cm.
Added Author:
Describes the life cycle of the hard-working honeybee.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 595.799 FLE 1 1
Book J 595.799 FLE 0 1
Book J 595.799 FLE 0 1

On Order



Get up close and personal with Apis, one honeybee, as she embarks on her journey through life, complete with exquisitely detailed illustrations.

Beginning at birth, the honeybee emerges through the wax cap of her cell and is driven to protect and take care of her hive. She cleans the nursery and feeds the larvae and the queen. But is she strong enough to fly? Not yet!

She builds wax comb to store honey, and transfers pollen from other bees into the storage. She defends the hive from invaders. Apis accomplishes all of this before beginning her life outdoors as an adventurer, seeking nectar to bring back to her hive.

Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann describe the life cycle of the hard-working honeybee in this poetically written, thoroughly researched picture book, similar in form and concept to the Sibert and Orbis Pictus award book Giant Squid, complete with stunning gatefold and an essay on the plight of honeybees.

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

Author Notes

Candace Fleming is the author of more than twenty distinguished books for children including The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia , winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, the NCTE Orbus Pictus Award, and a Sibert Honor, among other awards.

Eric Rohmann is the award-winning author and/or illustrator of many beloved books for children. He received a Caldecott Honor for Time Flies and a Caldecott medal for My Friend Rabbit .

Candace and Eric's other collaborations include Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen as well as the popular "Bulldozer" books. They live in Chicago, Illinois.

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Tongues lick./ Antennae touch." The brief but complex life of a Apis Mellifera--a worker honeybee--is explored with depth in this richly detailed picture book. Fleming uses lyrical language to describe just how jam-packed Apis's short life is--her jobs include cleaning the nursery, feeding "grub-like larvae," tending the queen, building comb, food handling, and guarding the hive. "At last, on the twenty-fifth day of her life... she leaps from the nest and... FLIES!" Apis lives only 10 days more: "She has visited thirty-thousand flowers. She has collected enough nectar to make one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey." Though "Apis stills," Fleming renders her humble life a mesmerizing wonder. Rohmann's realistic oil-on-paper illustrations artfully capture close-up details such as the glisten of transparent wings and the fine hairs covering a bee's body. An ending schematic identifies bee body parts, while supplemental materials offer more facts and details about helping the insects. Ages 6--9. (Feb.)

Horn Book Review

A worker bee breaks out of her honeycomb cell and begins a task-filled life in her colony. The teeming, trembling flurry of bees within the close confines of the dark hive is impressively portrayed in Rohmanns honey-toned illustrations through extreme close-ups and varying perspectives on bee bodies. For the first twenty-four days of her life, the bee remains in the hive, tidying up, nursing larvae, grooming the queen, and performing other vital tasks, all while developing her own strength. With each stage of growth, the text builds anticipation through repetition: will the next stage be Flying? / Not yet. Partway through the book, on day twenty-five, the bee finally emerges above a sunlit meadow on a four-page foldout; she flies into the next stage of existence as a pollinator. After ten days of nectar collection (during which she produces one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey), the bee dies, and a new bee emerges from a cell. As with the author-illustrator pairs Giant Squid (rev. 9/16), the art and text together convey a holistic view of environment and organism, with excellent pacing through the complete bee life cycle. A diagram of bee anatomy is appended, and a Helping Out Honeybees note discussing the importance of honeybees to human food production and threats to their existence, with a reading list and websites, concludes the book. Danielle J. Ford March/April 2020 p.101(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Yet another picture book about bees? Yes, indeed! Glorious illustrations and engaging text combine to present readers with an up-close look at the life of a honeybee. The action jumps right in, beginning even before the title page, as a new bee chews her way out of her birth chamber and immediately starts working to support her hive. The present-tense text employs simple, straightforward sentences to describe her day-to-day development, with every page ending with the question ""Is she going to fly now?"" The answer remains ""No!"" for the first 25 days, until, finally, in a glorious four-page foldout, she soars away over a meadow. Ten days later, her time is up, and she peacefully curls up on the forest floor just as another honeybee is born. The vivid oil paint illustrations include minute details and, at times, seem indistinguishable from photographs. The pictures align perfectly with the text, showing the honeybee hard at work at various tasks. Back matter includes a physical diagram, ways humans can help bees, facts, trivia, and additional resources. Whether used to support inquiry projects or as a stunning storytime selection, this offering will captivate audiences.--Kathleen McBroom Copyright 2020 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4--Prior to the title page, two full-page close-ups show a honeybee emerging from her wax cell. The free verse poem that runs through the entire book helps readers envision the start of this life cycle. The text and the accompanying illustrations work together masterfully. The vocabulary is precise and razor sharp: each word makes an impact, adding a crucial detail. The language also generates and sustains curiosity. Early on in the narrative, Fleming wonders if the honeybee is ready to fly, but the answer is "not yet." Other jobs come first--cleaning, nursing, queen tending, comb building, food handling, and guarding. The bee finally takes flight "on the twenty-fifth day of her life." It is worth the wait. Rohmann's illustrations make a dramatic transition. The previous oil-on-paper illustrations are amazingly detailed, large, and easy to examine. The warm colors of the hive (brown, black, yellow) show a safe, secure environment. But as Apis Mellifera peers out from the hive, the perspective radically changes, and a four-page gatefold of a sunny meadow with a field of flowers is visible. Readers follow the insect through each of her jobs until her end, where a new honeybee takes her place. It's an impressive cycle. VERDICT This book is nonfiction at its best--a combination of beautifully crafted language and astonishing close-up illustrations. Fleming displays admiration for honeybees and conveys enormous respect for their work.--Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York

Kirkus Review

As they did in Giant Squid (2016), Fleming and Rohmann give readers a deep dive into the biology of a creature so alien from humans it's hard to imagine we all live on the same planet. The long, free-verse poem begins to unfold in the frontmatter when the protagonist emerges from the wax cell that protected her during metamorphosis "into / a teeming, trembling flurry. / Hummmmm!" Naming her subject Apis for her genus, Fleming describes in meticulous detail many of the myriad roles a worker honeybee plays in the colony, from cell preparation through nursing, queen tending, comb building, nectar receiving, honey curing, guarding, and scouting to, finally, foraging. She maintains narrative tension through artfully deployed delayed gratification, ending each topical spread by hinting that Apis' "new job" might involve "flying?" only to reveal a different nest-bound activity for Apis with a page turn. Rohmann rises to the challenge of a story set mostly in dark, confined quarters and a limited palette of black, brown, and honey yellow with stunning views of Apis and her sisters, each tiny hair and segment lovingly delineated. Neither text nor illustrations anthropomorphize their subject; Apis never complains. But an astonishing double gatefold depicts her finally flying over a field of purple and yellow wildflowers into an endless blue sky, liberating bee, creators, and readers alike. Several pages of backmatter offer further information about honeybees, online resources, and child-appropriate books.Like its subject, a wonder to behold. (Informational picture book. 5-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.