Clan Apis, by Jay Hosler
When we first meet Nyuki the honeybee, she is still a sightless, shapeless larva, but soon she will transform into a mature worker. To begin the transmogrification, she must enter a cocoon, which she will build by producing silk from the spinnerets in her mouth and mixing it with her own feces.
It’s just amazing the things you learn in the course of this graphic novel, though I promise that most of them aren’t as gross as that silk-and-poo thing. You”ll learn about hive construction, bee swarming, pollination, reproduction, predation, defense, territorialism, and lots more.
And then more on top of that. And then a bit more. Author and illustrator Jay Hosler can’t help himself. He’s a honeybee neurobiologist.
He’s also a wonderful storyteller. You’ll get a thorough education in honeybees, but you won’t even notice it happening because you’ll be caught up in Nyuki’s life story. The science-y bits blend seamlessly with Nyuki’s adventures, from her romantic matchmaking efforts on the behalf of two flowers to her near-death encounter with a praying mantis.
I’m choosing to think of the book as whimsical nonfiction, though you could call it fiction with a whole lot of facts thrown in. I’m also choosing to think of it as an adult book, because I am an adult and I really liked it, but it’s quite suitable for teens and older elementary students. The crisp black-and-white drawings will appeal to all ages, and the drama will make you put the book down and sniffle in private. I, uh, heard. That didn’t happen to me or anything. Nope.
Check the WRL catalog for Clan Apis