The pastoral life of a bumblebee queen.
Her yearly cycle begins on the first day of spring, when she sleepily flies in search of food and a nest. She has spent the winter hibernating in a dry mouse-hole. The queen visits dandelion and pussy-willow flowers, drinking nectar and gathering pollen by brushing her hairy body on them. Along the way, she deposits pollen in other flowers. She finds a new mouse-hole, where her colony will begin. By making honey pots (which resemble tiny brown eggs) and laying eggs and covering them with wax, she gives life to all the worker bees that well populate the colony. There are intruders: a weasel, shown how unwelcome he is in short order; and a cuckoo bee, who wants to drive out the queen and take over. Luckily, the worker bees spot her hiding in a corner and drive her out. On the last day of summer, "the old bumblebee queen flies out of her wonderful nest for the last time." And in the autumn, all the new queens fly out to find drones to mate with before settling into another winter of sleep. Wilson's narrative is crisp and concise, though prone to anthropomorphism. Similarly, Kennaway's watercolors are straightforward and mostly realistic in their particulars. A valuable page about "Helping bumblebees" and a glossary conclude the book.
Informative and, in its way, lovely. (Picture book. 5-8)