1001 Bees is described by the publisher as a fun, fact-filled, oversized book about creatures and the world they inhabit. The beautiful cover measures roughly 10 x 13 inches, the size of a large manilla envelope. The palette is red, blue, yellow, pink, and green, with lots of black on a white background.
Turning the page, the reader discovers light blue end papers with colorful beehive boxes in white sand (?) at the bottom and many bees flying above them. The back cover is a honeycomb in orange and white with yellow and black bees scattered throughout.
The first three double-page spreads stick to the theme of the title. The author explains beehives, beekeepers, shows a dissection of a bee box, and discusses the various bee jobs, the waggle dance, and swarming bees. “The old queen leaves the hive with some of the young workers. They settle on a branch and form a big hanging swarm.”
Mr. Busby is the beekeeper in the story. He appears on the first page and is mentioned a few pages in. “Watch out, Mr. Busby! Your bees are flying away!”
Then for some reason, the book veers away from bees and spends the next four double-page spreads discussing cornflowers, poppies, ants, clover leaves, ladybirds (ladybugs), fennel, yellow iris, nettles, marshes, and a heron. There is only one bee fact. “A bee can fly 80 km (50 miles) in a day!”
Then the bees fly over a field of wheat on the next two pages where the following are discussed: mustard plant, rape seed, a lark, barley, a scythe, and leaf bugs. Turn the page and we see a blue tit, chamomile, thyme, toads, and onion flowers.
The next page is all about insects, including the grasshopper, cicadas, crickets, plus morning glory flowers, and two bee facts. “Bumblebees are bigger and furrier than honey bees.”
Then it’s on to squirrels, with a nod to Mr. Busby. “Quick, Mr. Busby, grab the bees before they settle here!”
Turn the page and Mr. Busby shows up again with his bee suit on, including red boots. “So where are the bees now? They’re safe and sound in a brand new hive!”
The last double-page spread talks about the different types of honey. One cute feature is hiding a bee with orange pollen on it is back legs. It appears once on every double-page spread and is mentioned early in the book.
“Keep an eye out! A little bee with baskets full of orange pollen on her back legs is hiding in the other pictures in this book. Can you spot her?”
The art is gorgeous. Children will delight in the large illustrations with new things to find every time it is read to them. From a visual point of view, 1001 Bees is an oversized stunner. From a written point of view, the book is mistitled. It may be about 1001 bees, but it’s also about much, much more.