Markle presents a solid, respectful overview of colony collapse disorder for an audience slightly younger than Loree Griffin Burns’ The Hive Detectives (2010).
The author opens her story in October 2006, with a beekeeper checking on his hive to discover that thousands of his workers have disappeared. From this compelling opening, she backtracks to discuss the importance of honeybees in pollination as well as bee basics. She then moves on to discuss possible causes of CCD: monoculture and suburban sprawl, overwork (a map provides graphic testimony to commercial bees’ arduous schedules), mites, fungus and pesticides. Both natural and human defenses against CCD present some hope. Bees reproduce fast, and adjustments made to bees’ schedules and feeding can help, as does breeding mite- and disease-resistant bees and the rise in hobbyist beekeeping. Markle never talks down to her audience, using specialized vocabulary—Nosema ceranae, varroa mite, neonicotinoid—and lucidly defining it in context as well as gathering it in a glossary. Big, full-color photographs are reproduced against honey-colored backgrounds. (Sharp-eyed readers will wonder why there is no mention of a mite clearly attached to a dead bee in a photograph captioned, “This bee didn’t have any symptoms to show it was sick before it died.”) Further facts as well as ways to help honeybees appear in the backmatter.
In all, a solid addition to the insect shelves, with a valuable emphasis on science as process. (bibliography, index). (Nonfiction. 9-12)