We recently caught up with Charlotte Milner to chat bee tutus, the power of picture books and how kids can help in saving the bees. Charlotte is a buzzworthy writer and illustrator and the bee-rilliant author of The Bee Book.
Colourful, playful, engaging, informative, relevant
A sketchbook, a tote bag and a water bottle
Girl with a Bee Earring (because I have way too much bee jewellery!)
Picture books can visually explain what is happening in the world in a simple and concise way, so they are a great tool to help raise more serious topics to children. When a parent and child are reading together, it creates a context in which children can ask questions and have a conversation about these topics... and adults can learn from these books too! I certainly buy a lot of children's non-fiction because they are so good at explaining topics in a way that is visual and entertaining.
That was definitely one of them! When I learned that bees dance to communicate, it was such a beautiful concept that sparked a lot of design ideas. The other design that was a lot of fun was the one showing the life of a worker bee. These bees have so many different roles across their lifetime, from cleaning, to building, and guarding their nest. I loved creating a design that allows readers to follow a bee through these jobs. It’s an amazing system that’s enforced by nature to keep the colony well-ordered and healthy.
There are around 20,000 different species of bees, which is actually more than there are species of birds and mammals combined! Because of this, it was difficult not to include many other types of bees (and make a much longer book!) but in the end I decided to focus primarily on the well-known honey bee. Bee decline is actually effecting some of the lesser-known bees the most, but I hope that by understanding a honey bee's world, readers will want to know more about the other bees out there too.
As a child I remember watching the bumblebees fly from flower to flower across the bushes of lavender we had in the garden. I think children have a strong familiarity with bees because they are able to take a close look at them in the outdoors. I hope that learning about bees will satisfy children’s curiosity about these creatures, and answer questions such as Why do bees need flowers?, Why do they buzz? and How do honey bees make honey? In creating this book I became completely absorbed in the world of bees and I hope kids will love learning about them as much as I did.
Get planting! It’s coming up to spring so its a good time for planting bee-friendly plants. You can usually find the RHS bee symbol on the plants and seeds most 'perfect for pollinators'.