Teach children the Way of the Bee

If you have not heard the latest then here it is- there’s a new children’s picture book coming out soon! April 8th in fact and it’s not just any picture book for children; it’s a book for each parent that reads it as well.

That’s right, it’s something that we can all learn from; and it has pretty pictures too! I am currently in the process of wrapping up the final proof for this educational book of wonders and it will soon be available for sale online at Amazon.com.

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sketch of next watercolor painting for children's picture book, Weeds are Wildflowers, Let them Bee!
Here’s the start of the 10th watercolor. There will be a total of 14 pictures in the first book, Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee! Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

About the book

My book is designed to teach awareness of wildflowers as major and minor sources of honey bee forage. There are hundreds if not thousands of species of wildflowers, including arboreal ones (cool word for tree flowers), that honey bees depend upon for their groceries.

Yes, honey bees need flowers in order to survive. And yes, we are cutting them all down and killing them with toxic sprays every day.

The book will have a short little rhyme about bees and flowers on each page that kids will enjoy hearing while they look at the pictures one after another.

collection of watercolor illustrations used for illustrating the children's picture book, Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee!
Here’s a few of the first watercolors. Sneak peaks if you will. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

A better way

I want to plant a seed of awareness in the minds of children the incredible importance of wildflowers and encourage them to develop a mindset of preservation through awareness.

It makes absolutely no sense to worry about the bees dying if we’re going to also spray the ‘weeds’ in our front lawns. Besides, weeds are only wildflowers that you haven’t met yet.

What do you think will happen if today’s younger generations are taught how to save instead of kill? Or how to propagate rather than decimate?

Anymore, especially in the state of Florida, it seems that people are cutting down trees like they were a disease or something. “Hey, there’s another one! It won’t get away from us! Cut it down!” Not to mention we need plants in order to BREATH and clean the air.

It can be quite infuriating to watch people cut, kill, spray, and destroy OUR home without OUR permission, not that we would give it. Today’s workforce must have had children’s books with bulldozers and backhoes.

watercolor illustrations used to illustrate the children's picture book, Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee!
The color swatches at the top of each illustration is where I test my color palette to see if I have the color I’m looking for or not. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

Today’s children need something better from their books. My upcoming book will show a different wildflower on each page. And each wildflower has a honey bee on it collecting pollen and nectar. The illustrations are watercolor paintings that I am personally creating myself.

Plus I’m using a very unique watercolor made by M. Graham, that uses HONEY in the ingredients! I have to say that this is pretty awesome. Honey pulls moisture from the air which helps to keep the watercolors from drying out. It’s a very creamy pigment and I love painting with each color.

M. Graham watercolor palette used for illustrating the children's picture book, Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee!
Here is my painter’s palette! I love using watercolor that has honey as one of the ingredients. M. Graham watercolors can be found here. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

By the end of the book, my hopes are that children will want to learn more about wildflowers and honey bees. They will at the very least become aware of them in a way that they were not before.

Perhaps they will notice flowers more often on their way to school or while playing in the backyard. Maybe they will observe honey bees on flowers as something fascinating instead of something to be scared of. Maybe they will be the one to say, “No, don’t spray the flowers daddy. The bees need them.

I believe that if children had a better understanding of their world and how it works as a greater whole, with individual parts each supporting the other, then they will see that we have created an unsustainable world for them.

Then, I hope that they will want to do something about it. Instead of driving bulldozers and concrete mixers then maybe they’ll pursue wilderness conservation, entomology, permaculture, or maybe even beekeeping.

watercolor illustrations used to illustrate the children's picture book, Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee!
The illustration on the left is a honey bee on Goldenrod, a wonderful source of food from late summer up till the first hard frost in most areas where it grows. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

Rather than building up skyscrapers or pollution machines on wheels (cars) then they will outlaw land clearing and work on sustainable systems instead. What we are doing today is clearly not working. But there are so few who are working towards the change we need. We need to build up the team.

Foolish lessons

One day during my early years of apprenticing as a beekeeper, I had not yet learned the value of honey bees. I could squash one without worrying too much about it. After all, honey bees sting right? I was an idiot.

Anyways, while working in the barn, it was my job to melt beeswax for a project we were doing. The smell of beeswax naturally attracted honey bees to where I was working.

One of them landed on the tool I was using, so out of curiosity, I dipped the little bee into the molten beeswax. She was encased in a shell of wax. I killed her for my amusement.

That’s why we have the world we have today. No one values lives, much less the lives that help to support their own. But there is no reason that this cannot change. If my book, hopefully the first of many, makes even a small hole in the ‘boat of unsustainability‘ then I will be happy. But I’ll be happier if it makes a really big hole too.

M. Graham watercolor set
Here is my first M. Graham watercolor set. They have many different sets other than this “Desert Southwest.” Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

Part of this post today is to reveal to you, my readers of awesomeness, the title of my first, upcoming children’s educational picture book of amazingness. And if you have already been reading my posts then the title of this book will not surprise you in the least. It shall hence forth be called: Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee!

Your children will make the difference!

What if someday, one kid that read one of my books or others like it decided to do something more to help the honey bee? What if honey bees became a protected species like the tortoise and bald eagle? What if foraging grounds for honey bees became protected like national parks?

My whole point is to make a difference. I think a good place to begin is with kids. Kids are smart. Kids are the ones who have to clean up today’s world before it gets worse. Kids are awesome. Hopefully, kids today will learn more respect for honey bees than I had in my earlier story during my 20’s.

Thanks for joining me once again. I hope that you read my book when it becomes available and read it to your kids everyday. You can stay updated about where I currently am with my children’s picture books by visiting my Projects page here. Please take a second and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Until next time remember,

~Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee.~

Jonathan Hargus/Beekeeper Extraordinaire

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Cheri says:

    Beekeepers, animal lovers, wildlife conservationists, nature lovers, teachers, artists, creative thinkers, philosophers, and so much more are we…

    1. I like the professions you added to the list of hopefuls. 😊

  2. jen3972 says:

    What a brilliant book! And absolutely gorgeous paintings!

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