I was enchanted by Rachel Weston’s attractive little bumblebee book right from the moment I read its title, Bumblebees Have Smelly Feet. They do, too. On page 8, I read about the ‘oily, smelly footprint’ which bumblebees leave on each flower they have visited, thus warning other bees that the nectar – ‘their liquid candy’ – has already been collected.
‘Bumblebees are the jumbo jet planes of the insect world.’ Rachel Weston has a prose style that really captures the interest of young readers. ‘One bumblebee can do 50 times the work of one honeybee. The bumblebee is a super-duper pollinator.’’
Every aspect of bumble life is introduced in this book: anatomy, eyesight, life-cycle and reproduction. There are also plenty of interesting ideas such as replicating the bumblebee’s ‘buzz pollination’ with the vibrations of an electric toothbrush on a tomato flower. If you find your kids freezing tonic water, blame Rachel Weston and the UV experiment on page 15.
Bumblebees Have Smelly Feet is well-illustrated, with a wide range of handsome colour photographs of bumblebees in action. Deborah Hinde has provided some elegant and amusing bee illustrations, as well as slipping three funny forgeries into the Bumblebee Family Photos (pages 30-1).
The lively information provided, as well as the resources at the back of the book, make this readable volume an ideal addition to primary school classrooms and libraries. There is a really good index, a set of useful websites and a page of Learning Activities. The Glossary is also excellent; for example, Dumbledore is an ‘old English name for bumblebee’.
Be warned: the book also contains full instructions on how to obtain and set up a box colony of bumblebees.