book review

The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco (and Honey Bee Activities!)

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honey bee activities

The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco is a very favorite author/illustrator so I decided to not only review her wonderful book,  “The Bee Tree” , but to also bee kind, bee creative and muster up some fun honey bee activities!

The Bee Tree

This charming book features a real life book adventure between a grandfather and his grand daughter.

Mary Ellen complains that she is tired of reading. Her grandfather has just the thing to spice up the afternoon….“this is just the right time to find a bee tree !”

Chasing a bee through the Michigan countryside, they are soon joined by a variety of village folk. Finally the bee leads them to the hive in a tree where they gather a bit of honey. At the end of the story the grandfather dribbles a little bit of honey on his grand-daughter’s book cover and tell Mary Ellen to compare its sweetness to that which is found inside. “Just like we ran after the bees to find their tree, so you must also chase these things: adventure, knowledge, and wisdom through the pages of a book! “

Well said Grandpa !!!

Grab your copy of The Bee Tree HERE.

Something To Do

Check out the wonderfully sweet #FeedABee initiative! “Bees and pollinators need to eat! With the help of our partners and people like you, we’re going to plant millions of seeds and create forage for pollinators across the U.S!” Get a free packet of “bee friendly” seeds and every time you tweet, Bayer donates to the cause!

The process the grand-father in The Bee Tree uses to get the bees is one that all bee-keepers use to this day. In the summers we often watch, and help our bee-keeping friends gather the honey.
In the fields surrounding Avonlea farm bees take their treasures back to their hives to make the liquid gold we call honey.

Though I love honey and buy many organic jars of the beautiful stuff, I had never really thought about a bee’s life and how needed they are.

Luella prepares to smoke the hives to calm the bees.



Once the bees are calmed, they start looking to see how much honey there is and if it’s ready to be harvested.

With the bees still on the comb, Pavo decides it’s time to shake them loose and put this one away to harvest the honey.

Once back at the barn, Luella combs off the wax so she can extract the honey. She leaves just enough wax on the comb for the bees to store more food for winter and have enough warmth from the wax to survive the long cold dark winters of Sweden.


This one is ready for the extractor.

A honey extractor.

A bucket at the bottom of the extractor catches the honey.

All in an afternoon’s work.

Currently the world’s bee population is in crisis. Pesticides are creating something called Colony Collapse which kills entire bee hives. It is becoming so extreme that China is now hand pollinating its fruit trees.  The bottom line: without bees, we will not have food. By purchasing local organic vegetables, fruit, and honey we are helping to sustain their world.

Queen of the Sun: What the Bees are Telling Us

About a year ago we watched the most poetic and beautiful movie about the bees. This is a must see film. We learned so much about the bees and what we can do to help them.

How much honey does a bee make ?

On a single flight, a honey bee can visit more than 1,000 flowers, drinking nectar with its proboscis, a tongue that resembles a drinking straw. When its “honey stomach” — which holds only one-eyedroppers’ worth of nectar — is full, the bee deposits the nectar into hive cells.

It’s Time to play Honey Bees


Group your children into “colonies.” This can be done with one child as well. For each colony, place an eyedropper and cup of water at one end of the room and a plastic medicine cup (marked with teaspoon and tablespoon increments) across the room.

To play, children take turns transferring water across the room to the medicine cups — one drop at a time! As the “bees” deposit their “honey” into the “hives,” a recorder keeps count of the drops needed to produce the amounts of water, from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons. When finished, explain that the drop count for each measurement equals the number of bee flights taken to produce that amount of honey. Tell children that each bee produces about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

The Honey Files: A Bee’s Life: A Teaching Guide for Grades 4-6

This is an incredible activity guide about anything you’d want to know about bees and honey. Included are science, math, and literature projects and experiments. Written by the National Honey Board, this guide is a fantastic resource. You can get it here.

Make a Honey Bee Combs From Toilet Paper Rolls

Bees live in colonies with only one queen per colony. To populate the hive, the queen lays 2000 eggs a day. Aside from the queen there are two other types of bees:

Worker bees take care of the queen, nurture the young, guard the colony, and supply food.

Drone bees grow up and take a new queen to create a new hive.

Bees create the inside of their home by using wax from their glands and creating hexagonal shaped cells. To create a honey comb of your very own. Have a look at

Relentlessly Fun’s creative look at bees, Hexagons, and Honeycombs…all out of toilet paper rolls. I just love her.

Honeycomb_Collage2(Photo by Relentlessy Fun, Deceptively Educational)

Let’s Get Cooking With Honey

Honey Cinnamon Rolls

Honey Cinnamon Rolls

  • 2 packages yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup HONEY
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 pint milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon mixed

Dissolve yeast with warm water in a small bowl. Set aside. In a large pan, melt shortening and add HONEY, salt and milk, and allow it to cool. Beat eggs and add to yeast mixture. Then, beat in flour. Turnout dough on floured surface and knead until smooth. Place dough in bowl and let it rise until it’s double in bulk.

Prepare two 9 X 12 pans with 1/4 cup margarine each and sprinkle with brown sugar. Add nuts and dab teaspoons of ice cream over the entire pan. When dough has risen, punch down and place half on floured surface and roll out to 9×12 size with floured rolling pin. Spread with butter or margarine,then brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up like a jelly roll then cut off about 1 1/2” slices and place on prepared 9 X 13 pan. You should get about 16 cinnamon rolls per pan. Let these rise until double in bulk. Bake in 350°oven for about 30 minutes. When brown on top turn upside down on waxed paper to cool.

Spiced Honey Butter

Honey Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup HONEY
  • 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve on toast, biscuits, and muffins. YUM!

Secret Garden Wednesdays-too much fun NOT to read!


Enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together.


Whimsical author/illustrator Marilyn Scott-Waters and I created this book to not only encourage families to read and participate in some “unplugged” activities, but to also delve into the beauty and the wonder of this classic children’s tale. Get the full scoop on this vibrant book HERE and “meet me in the garden!”



17 thoughts on “The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco (and Honey Bee Activities!)

    1. Hi Marie-Claire, so glad you liked this one and always glad to see you visit. Happy Reading.

    1. Hi Julie,
      We loved doing the TP roll hive. As my son says, “It could even be wall art and a place to put your keys. “

  1. Wow, thanks for the comprehensive plan here on bees! I love it! And I am a huge fan of Patricia Polacco. Just look at the Grandfather’s face on that cover! Beautiful.

    1. Hi Amy, thanks for stopping by. I love her illustrations. She really captures the sparkle in the eyes. So glad to know you’re a fan too.

    1. Hi Penny,
      This is a fun read which the kids will ask for over and over again. Enjoy !!

  2. I’m thinking of using Polacco’s Bee Tree for school presentations this month, which is how I found your website. Your accompanying activities are wonderful, but there is one bit of erroneous information you may want to correct. Bees don’t form the hexagonal shapes of their honeycomb cells. They form circles and joining the circles of a malleable substance is what forms the hexagonal shape. This can be demonstrated by showing the shapes a cluster of bubbles will form which could be another activity to add. Thanks for doing what you do.

    Julie the Beek

  3. What a wonderful post! I love Patricia Polacco and I love stories about bees. Enjoyed the pictures of the process and the video. My brother and sister-in-law have bee hives in South Carolina, but they lost two of her five hives this year. Their farm is organic. Bees are so critical to pollination on the planet. Pesticides are their worst enemy.

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