2011 Winner: Middle Grades Science Book

The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe, by Loree Griffin Burns. (Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz; from the Scientists in the Field Series.) Houghton Mifflin, 2010.

Burns spotlights an unsolved mystery: the cause of the catastrophic loss of honeybees to “colony collapse disorder” (CCD). She first introduces readers to beekeeping by following a hobbyist as she inspects her beehives. The author then tells how commercial beekeeper Dave Hackenberg, checking 200 of his hives in Florida, found that 2 million of his pollinators had vanished. In subsequent sections, she describes the work of four scientists whose specialties (autopsies, bee pests such as mites, bacterial and viral pathogens, and pesticide monitoring) opened separate lines of research to consider different possible explanations for the threat to bees and, by extension, agriculture. Burns summarizes the researchers’ procedures, equipment, and findings before reporting the theory that the outbreak of CCD may stem from a novel combination of factors. Special feature pages and appendices present aspects of honeybee anatomy, development, and social behavior along with how beekeepers harvest honey and the crucial roles bees play in pollinating plants and crops. The color photographs included on nearly every page effectively complement the informative text.

About the Author

Loree Griffin Burns, Author

Loree’s first career was as a research scientist (she holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry), and so it is not surprising that her writing celebrates the natural world and the people who study it. Her first book for young people, Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion, was published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 2007 and received several honors, including a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book award, an ALA Notable Book designation, and an International Reading Association Children’s Book Award. It was also a finalist for the 2008 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize.

To research her second book, The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catatstrophe, Loree and photographer Ellen Harasimowicz immersed themselves in the world of bees and beekeeping, visiting bee schools, local apiaries, university laboratories, and large-scale commercial beekeeping operations.

Loree lives in central Massachusetts with her husband and their three children and regularly visits schools, libraries, and book festivals to share her research, her books, and her passion for discovery.

Ellen Harasimowicz, Photographer:

Ellen Harasimowicz is a freelance photographer from Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Scientific American, and Audubon Adventures among others. Ellen teamed up with children’s author Loree Griffin Burns to illustrate The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe published in May 2010 by Houghton Mifflin. The pair has a second book, this one about citizen science, in production with publisher Henry Holt.

Before photography became her passion, Ellen spent 15 years as a graphic designer. She has self-published several books through after recent travels to Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya. Her most recent self-published book is an eight-year photographic essay titled John Olson: Maine Lobsterman about an 88-year-old lobster fisherman in Cushing, Maine. He is also the nephew of Christina Olson, the subject of the renowned 1948 painting by Andrew Wyeth titled Christina’s World.

Ellen has a B.A. in psychology with a studio art minor from Mount Holyoke College.