Reviews for Hive Detectives : Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe

Booklist Reviews 2010 May #1
*Starred Review* The author of Tracking Trash (2007), Burns now spotlights a "dream team" of scientists as they work to determine what is threatening bee colonies and (by extension) agriculture, which depends on bees for pollination. After following hobbyist beekeeper Mary Duane as she inspects her hives, the discussion turns to a commercial beekeeper who reported in 2006 that 20 million bees had vanished in a mysterious and deadly phenomenon now known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). Fully illustrated with excellent color photos, the clearly written text introduces four scientists and follows them from the field to their labs as they investigate possible causes of CCD: pesticides, viruses, bacteria, and pests such as mites. The book demonstrates the urgent need for answers, the challenges of the scientists' ongoing research projects, and the importance of investigating a variety of possibilities. In the final pages, beekeeper Duane harvests honey from her healthy bees' hives. Throughout the presentation, readers learn about the anatomy, development, and social behavior of honey bees and observe the process of scientific investigation and its vital, real-world application. Appended are lists of recommended books, magazines, films, and Web sites as well as a glossary and a source bibliography. A fascinating book from the Scientists in the Field series. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2010 May
Investigating the mysterious drop in honey bees

“Put on your veil, grab your hive tool, and light up your smoker we’re going into a beehive,” begins The Hive Detectives, Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe


With its clear, readable text, amazing photographs and attractive design, the latest title in the “Scientists in the Field” series not only takes readers inside a beehive, but provides a fascinating look at how scientists and beekeepers are working together to research an alarming drop in honey bees.

Readers of The Hive Detectives will feel like investigators themselves. The first chapter provides an engaging introduction to beekeeping by following the activities of Mary Duane, who keeps bees in her backyard as a hobby. Readers see Mary preparing a smoker and using hive tools to check the health of her bees.

Thanks to this background, it’s easy for readers to appreciate the plight of Dave Hackenberg, a commercial beekeeper, who in November 2006 discovered that 400 of his hives were mysteriously decimated. Author Loree Griffin Burns, who has a Ph.D. in Biology and writes about science for children, follows Hackenberg’s quest to bring the honey bee catastrophe to the attention of policymakers and scientists. A center spread provides short bios of four of the researchers who ultimately collaborated on investigations to discover what might be causing colony collapse disorder (CCD) throughout the country.

The Hive Detectives not only tells a compelling story, it is a visual feast, with high quality photographs, an exceptionally appealing design that draws the reader into the topic and a clear, concise glossary. Just as the scientists are profiled in a scrapbook format, the same layout is used to provide information on the parts of the insect and “bios” of the bees that comprise a hive: drones, workers and queen. 

Scientists are still looking for the causes of CCD, but it’s clear that chemicals and pesticides play a crucial role. Books like The Hive Detectives are integral to helping young readers—and their parents—gain a better understanding not only of how scientists work to solve real-life problems, but how all of us can be part of solutions by the choices we make. 

And that’s definitely a sweet discovery.


Deborah Hopkinson’s newest book (also about bees) is entitled The Humblebee Hunter, Inspired by the Life and Experiments of Charles Darwin and his Children. 

Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
In 2006-2007, a sudden drop in the number of honey-bee colonies alarmed scientists. Burns tells the story as a dramatic scientific mystery, carefully leading readers through the unfolding of the crisis and attempts to solve it. Profiles of beekeepers and details about bees and honey making, along with gloriously crisp photographs, are interspersed throughout the main text. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #3
In 2006-2007, a sudden and unexplained drop in the number of honey-bee colonies -- a reduction of nearly forty percent of the total honeybee population in the United States -- alarmed beekeepers and scientists alike. In yet another excellent entry in the series, Burns tells their story as a dramatic scientific mystery, carefully leading readers through the unfolding of the crisis and the attempts to solve it: from the initial collapses in the beekeeping industry, through the identification of possible causes and the careful scientific research that eliminated each individual cause (pests, virus, pesticide), to the current research collaborations as scientists still try to figure out what happened. Profiles of the beekeepers and scientists, details about bee types, anatomy, and honey making, and information about the important roles bees play in global food production are interspersed throughout the main text, along with gloriously crisp photographs of bees and people at work out in the field and inside scientific laboratories. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 April #1
Not long after beekeepers encountered a devastating new problem in their hives in 2006, a team of bee scientists began working to discover the causes of colony collapse disorder (CCD), now attributed to a combination of factors possibly including pesticides, nutrition, mites and viruses. Unusually for a Scientists in the Field book, the focus here is as much on the scientific question as the individual scientists. The central section describing the investigations of four members of the CCD working group is framed by chapters introducing a hobbyist beekeeper's mechanics and methods and explaining the work of the commercial beekeeper who first discovered the problem. Mock notebook pages break up the narrative with biographies of the individual scientists, information about who and what can be found inside the hive and the features of bee bodies. An appendix adds varied fascinating facts about bees--again using the format of an illustrated research journal. Harasimowicz's clear, beautifully reproduced photographs support and extend the text. Readers may be left wanting more but will be well served by this example of a scientific mystery still unsolved. (glossary, materials to study, acknowledgments, selected references, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 June

Gr 5-8--The mystery of the vanishing honeybees began in the winter of 2006 when beekeeper Dave Hackenberg inspected 400 of his 3000 hives in Florida and discovered that 20 million bees had simply disappeared. He frantically alerted state bee inspectors and other beekeepers that there was some strange new ailment affecting these insects and asked for help in finding the cause. Soon beekeepers across the country were reporting similar catastrophes. Most of this lucid, fact-filled introduction focuses on the investigation into the problem, now known as "colony collapse disorder," or CCD. Separate chapters cover each of four scientists' line of research and describe their procedures, key tools, equipment, and findings. While no definitive cause for CCD has yet been found, the researchers theorize that the disorder is caused by a combination of the usual bee ailments, the chemicals used to treat them, and a new systemic pesticide employed by farmers. Other chapters include interviews with a hobbyist beekeeper and Hackenberg; they are packed with information on beekeeping and stress the importance of bees as pollinators. Special feature pages profile the scientists and describe the physical and behavioral characteristics of honeybees; hive construction; the making of honey, etc. Clear color photographs of beekeepers, scientists, equipment, close-ups of bees, hives, etc., complement the text on every page. Youngsters concerned with the environment will find this meticulously researched title a valuable resource.--Karey Wehner, formerly at San Francisco Public Library

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