When I started writing If Not for a Bee, I wasn’t sure what was going to bring my hero Dr. Aidan Hollings to Alaska. I already knew he was a scientist - a botanist. I knew he was going to fall in love with heroine Janie Everett. But I needed a compelling reason for him to come to Alaska. He needed to study something.
There is plenty of interesting flora for a plant doctor to study in our most northern state - lichens, wildflowers, trees. I had already started taking notes on some. The monkey flower and the white bog-orchid were on the list as was the northern grass-of-Parnassus. How could it not be with that name? But nothing was really flashing that neon "pick me" sign.
Then one day I ran across an article about bees. Specifically, the article was about the study of native bumblebee species and their importance as pollinators of native plants species. I was hooked. And I knew Aidan would be, too. He’s a botanist. Of course he has an interest in bees.
So, it turns out, do I. Here are a few of my favorite fun facts. (Please don’t send me hate mail for not citing sources, for any inaccuracies you may encounter, or for expressing my obvious bias for bees over wasps.)
|Cute, fuzzy bumble bee.|
*You probably know that all the worker bees in a hive of honey bees are females. The drones (males) only responsibility is fertilization. They do not participate in nectar or pollen gathering or work of any kind. They rely entirely on the workers for food. If the worker bees stopped feeding the drones they would die of starvation. (There are so many jokes begging to be made about gender roles here, I’m going to refrain and let you have at it.)
*It is true that honey bees can only sting you once. This is because the honey bee stinger has barbs that face backward, making it impossible for them to retract the stinger. To sting is a death sentence for a honey bee. After it stings it flies away, leaving essential parts of its abdomen along with its stinger. But solitary bees, bumblebees, and wasps can sting multiple times. Most bees aren’t aggressive unless they feel threatened, whereas wasps seem to sting solely for sport. (This last statement has no basis in scientific fact and is strictly based on my own experiences.)
*Only the females of both bees and wasps can sting. (I think men can take their digs at women on this one.)
*Bees are cuter than wasps for a reason. They are fuzzier, chubbier and have a sweeter disposition than wasps. They use their furry legs and bodies to collect pollen. They feed this pollen and nectar to their babies. Honey bees “share” it with us in the form of honey. Wasps, on the other hand, share their venom in the form of a sting.
|Chubby, sweet bumblebee.|
*Wasps are scary-looking because they are, in fact, scary. Wasps are predators. They have a shinier, more streamlined appearance. They feed their young stuff like insects, caterpillars, and spiders. And watermelon and bbq chicken wings they steal from plates of innocent picnickers.
|Bald-Faced Hornet AKA Scary-Mean-Faced Hornet.|
|Yellow Jacket AKA Picnic Crashing Watermelon Stealer|
*Honey is one of the few foods that doesn’t expire. That's right. It never goes bad. That means if you find a jar of Grandpa's crystallized honey in the back of the pantry, all you have to do is place the jar in a pan of warm water until it melts and you're good to go. Researchers recently discovered honey estimated to be approximately 5,500 years old in the country of Georgia. Scientists say that technically there is no reason that you couldn't spread this golden goodness on a piping hot biscuit and enjoy. (Well, they didn't use those words exactly, but you get it.)
|Under most conditions, this delicious delight never goes bad.|
*The US almond crop depends 100% on honeybees for pollination. The numbers come in at approximately 90% for avocados, cherries, blueberries, and oranges. I’m just mentioning a few of my favorite “crops” here. Seriously, what would we do without these little guys?
|Honey Bee, what would my almonds and I do without you?|
IF NOT FOR A BEE and I are currently on tour with Prism Book Tours. I’ve had so much fun writing blog posts for all of these stops. I hope you’ll stop by and join us on one or two. There’s a Rafflecopter giveaway that includes a $50 Amazon card and a bundle of honey-sweet bee swag.
|Head on over to Prism Book Tours or carolrossauthor.com for the schedule.|
The tour happens to coincide with the launch of my brand spanking new website. It’s so pretty. Click here to see what all the buzz is about: carolrossauthor.com
Do you bee-lieve in love? Well, you're in luck because If Not For a Bee is on sale at the following book hives:
Thank you so much for flitting by today.
Because clearly, I've just been winging it!