The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery, by Sandra Markle

Published December 12, 2014 by Dagmar

VanishingHoneyBeesThis book is part of a great Scientific Mystery series.  I shared this book with my third grade class.  I love sharing non-fiction books with them.

This book focuses on CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder, or the disappearance of worker honeybees from their hives.  Bee hives are left with their queen and her brood (developing bees).

I particularly like this book, because the author, Sandra Markle, does such a great job in building the mystery for students.  The book begins with the question: “Where are all the honeybees?”  Markle’s next topic in the book is the importance of honey bees to all of us as pollinators.  She explains exactly how bees gather nectar and pollen.  The book continues with more on the mystery.  Scientists team up with the bee keepers to discover why the worker bees are not returning to their colony.  They believe the worker bees are dying.

Markle talks about the role of worker bees and tells of all the different bees in the hive, including the queen and the drones.  Then, she goes on to explain the different hypotheses scientists developed to explain what might be killing the honeybees: honeybee’s habitats are changing as areas become more developed; honeybees might be overworked as they are moved from region to region in the country, coinciding with growing seasons; beekeepers, in an effort to keep honeybees working, feed honeybees sugar syrup, which could weaken them.  The answer might be cell phones or even mites, a fungus, or pesticides.

While this book doesn’t present the answer to the mystery, the ending is satisfying for students.  It suggests that the answer may be a combination of the factors mentioned and that scientists are continuing their study of honeybees and their colonies to try to find the answer to this question.

I thought this book did a great job of teaching students how science connects to real world issues.  The photographs are terrific and the explanations of the problem and its possible causes are clearly and attractively presented.  I highly recommend this book to 3rd-5th grade students and their teachers.

Thanks to Junior Library Guild for this great selection.

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