The Bee Tree by Stephen Buchmann

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The Bee Tree is a magical story about giant bees, about trees that are higher than your eye can see in a forest that is more dark than light, and about a young boy named Nizam who soon will become a man.

Nizam lives in a village near the rainforest preserve surrounding PeduLake, just below the Thai border in Peninsular Malaysia. His grandfather Pak-Teh is the leader of the honey hunting clan. It is Pak-Teh who has the high honor of climbing the tall Tualang tree in the annual hunt to gather honey from the nests of giant honey bees.

But Pak-Teh is getting older and is now ready to prepare someone to take his place. He believes that Nizam is the one. Even though Nizam has climbed the mighty Tualang—the bee tree—in the daylight, he has never done it at night. Will he be brave enough?

On the first moonless night of the honey hunt, Nizam and Pak-Teh and the other honey hunters enter the dark rainforest. Pak-Teh starts the hunt with a prayer and a traditional story. Then he begins to climb. Nizam follows. Can he climb that high and not be afraid? Will the angry bees sting him?

At the top, Nizam and Pak-Teh use the honey hunters’ secret to keep from being stung, while their clansmen below soothe the bees with chanting. After a week of gathering honey in the nights, the clan returns home to celebrate their sweet and miraculous golden harvest.

At this feast, Pak-Teh honors Nizam with an important announcement.

This is a collaboration between three remarkable people: a scientist who has been fascinated with insects since the third grade; a writer who believes that writing children’s books is her way of building a better world; and an artist who never stops sketching and drawing as he travels.

Meet the creators of The Bee Tree:

Stephen Buchmann has traveled all over the world studying bees. He is a member of the entomology department faculty at the University of Arizona, and the author/co-author of 150 scientific papers and 8 books (including The Forgotten Pollinators and Letters from the Hive). He is active in international pollination research, conservation and policies to protect the world’s pollinators and the plants they pollinate. He served on a National Academy of Science committee investigating the status of pollinators in North America.

Diana Cohn is an award winning children’s book author. Her books include ¡Sí, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can! (Cinco Puntos Press); Dream Carver (Chronicle Books); and Mr. Goethe’s Garden (Bell Pond Books). She is a hobbyist beekeeper with a deep interest in pollination ecology. She first met Steve Buchmann while working on a radio documentary on the pollination crisis in America. As a result of their meeting they co-founded The Bee Works, an organization dedicated to public education about pollination ecology.

Paul Mirocha’s illustrations first appeared in Gathering the Desert by Gary Paul Nabhan, winner of the John Burroughs Medal for natural history in 1985. After 13 years as a graphic designer for the University of Arizona’s Office of Arid Lands Studies, Paul left to become a full-time illustrator, producing over 20 children’s picture books and pop-ups as well as modern nature writing, among them High Tide in Tucson, Prodigal Summer, and Small Wonder, by Barbara Kingsolver. Paul has made five trips to Malaysia. His paintings in The Bee Tree come directly from his sketchbook and memories from those experiences.


About Stephen Buchmann

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Stephen Buchmann is an amateur beekeeper, associate professor of entomology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, author of The Forgotten Pollinators, and founder of The Bee Works, an environmental company. Diana Cohn lives in northern California. When not writing or working on other creative projects, she works as a program officer for a national foundation on issues related to economic justice. She is also a hobbyist beekeeper. Paul Mirocha's artwork is noted for its combination of detail and emotional appeal. It is smart realism. Since 1990, Paul has illustrated over 20 children's picture books and pop-ups, and his illustrations have appeared in interpretive exhibits, scientific and popular publications, and books of adult and young adult fiction and contemporary nature writing.
Published April 10, 2012 by Cinco Puntos Press. 40 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs. Fiction

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In Malaysia, the yearly wild-honey hunts take place on moonless nights when the bees can’t see the men who climb the tualang, the tall bee trees.

May 01 2007 | Read Full Review of The Bee Tree

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