Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 29, 2020

Book Giveaway: H IS FOR HONEY BEE by Robbyn Smith

Robbyn Smith has written a new picture book, H IS FOR HONEY BEE, illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen and publish by Sleeping Bear Press. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Robbyn and Eileen.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Though small in size at approximately 5/8 of an inch (15 mm), Apis mellifera, otherwise known as the honey bee, is one of the most important insects on the planet. Due to their status as super pollinators, it is estimated that a third of the food we eat each day can be attributed to bee activity. And the delicious honey that our winged friends produce makes its way into numerous food, health, and beauty products. This is one busy bee! But the health and welfare of honey bees are in dire need of our attention and help. Habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change are threatening bee colonies around the world. Helping to better educate readers of all ages, beekeeper and wildlife rehabilitator Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen gives a “behind-the-hive” peek into the world of the honey bee in H is for Honey Bee: A Beekeeping Alphabet.


I have been with the Sleeping Bear Press team since 2001. My illustrator husband, Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, has been illustrating children’s books for them from the very beginning of their “kid book journey”.  Their first children’s book, The Legend of Sleeping Bear published in 1998, is still their best seller.  After the success of the Legend series (Mackinac Island, Petoskey Stone, Loon etc), Gijsbert and I approached SBP about a book idea close to our heart; a special great horned owl that we rescued.  After caring for the young owl for 6 months, we released him back into the wild. Several days later he returned and lived with us for the rest of his life, taking up permanent residence around the farm. Adopted by an Owl is the story of that special bond. You can watch Jackson the owl around our farm on the youtube link.    We have since written and illustrated four more in the Hazel Ridge Farm series. They are true stories about wild animals we raised and released back into the wild.

I was one of those kids that was always rescuing and caring for injured creatures, wild or domestic. My parents supported my passion and even said I should make my hobby my career. I had my sights on veterinary medicine and began working for a local vet. I worked weekends during middle school and then nights and weekends during high school. Finally in 1973 I was off to college and the start of the pre-vet program. Long story short, the competition to get into vet school was daunting and my money was running out. I finished college and ended up working as an animal technician in a nearby city.

Looking back, I feel letting go of my dream of becoming a veterinarian was the right choice. Working at an animal hospital as a technician was a very satisfying career. It is where I would meet my husband…and the rest is history. Closing one door always opens up another.

Several years later, at the same animal hospital, a flyer came in the mail about a farm for sale. Gijsbert and I drove to the farm, loved it and eventually bought it. We were actually married on the farm October 1980.

Before we bought Hazel Ridge Farm it was a working farm. Corn, soy and hay fields. Pastures for large herds of sheep. As licensed wildlife rehabilitators we saw the potential for this land to be a safe haven for the animals we cared for and would later release. Over the years we have changed the makeup of the 40 acres. There are about 5 miles of trails weaving through wetlands, woodlands, natural prairies and 5 ponds. Hazel Ridge Farm is now protected by a conservation easement and will always stay in its natural state.

Our family rehabilitated wildlife for 25 years and although we do not do it anymore, we have over 30 journals of those years. It is those journals that have helped me write my Hazel Ridge Series. Our Hazel Ridge series comes from our experiences with these injured animals. However, the memory sometimes needs a little nudge and the journals were instrumental in the nudging.  Our most adamant suggestion for any who wants to be a writer is to keep a journal. It relies on an informal format, very forgiving of any mistakes and no clock to punch. Journal, journal , journal.

Beekeeping is my new passion. I absolutely LOVE it. Anyone who is not a beekeeper may not understand this but tending bees is so relaxing.  I can just zen out while I am working with them. I have been a beekeeper since the spring of 2012. My first year I made every mistake in the book but sometimes mistakes are the best way to learn.  The best thing about beekeeping is there is always something new to learn.

Each colony is different. There are very gentle bees, short tempered bees, unpredictable bees but always, always amazing bees. I work with a veil but no gloves. Like many beekeepers, working slowly, patiently and bare-handed creates a trust and ease with both bees and beekeeper. Clumsy gloves usually means pinched or squashed bees…and then they get angry and remind you to slow down.

I work with my bees and Gijsbert builds all my bee equipment. He is very content with his carpentry contribution to my passion.

When Sleeping Bear press asked that I write a bee alphabet book to add to their Alphabet series I was so excited. As I began writing, I was able to share my personal knowledge as well as a “buzz-zillion” new facts. The only problem I had with writing the book was limiting it to a certain amount of pages. H is for Honey Bee only scratches the surface of the world of the honey bee. During the editing process there was so much cutting to reduce the word count that I give credit to my editor for putting up with my declarations of “but this has to be in!” In the end, I was very happy with what we settled on.

There are so many aspects of beekeeping that I was not able to include so I put together a very informal web page of some other things of interest. Catching swarms, extracting honey, working the bees, teaching, family and bees… and much more.   Enjoy.

You can discover more about our farm, family and other books at

And remember: protect our pollinators by planting bee friendly flowers and trees


Robbyn has dedicated much of her life to caring for animals. As a youngster she brought orphan animals home to mend and, as an adult, folks delivered them to her doorstep. Growing up as the middle child in a household with six sisters, she became the “entertainer.” Her elaborate and theatrical storytelling was her way of standing out in a crowd and finding her own voice.

Painted by Robbyn’s illustrator husband Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen. Click picture for larger view.

Her parents encouraged her to make her hobby her career, so with that in mind she attended Michigan State University and became an animal technician where she continued to care for animals. She met her illustrator husband Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen at the clinic where she worked. Together they share a mutual love of nature.

Nature journaling is a part of their daily lives and an enjoyable way to document all the special animals that have been a part of their lives. The Hazel Ridge series introduces readers to their farm and their true animal tales.

Today, Robbyn visits schools, zoos and nature centers sharing with children and adults the value of journaling, the joy of storytelling and the importance of protecting our natural world.


Eileen is a freelance artist with a background in Fine Art and Creative Writing. While spending years painting portraits and other oil commissions, Eileen kept thinking about what made her fall in love with art and words in the first place–children’s books. After the birth of her youngest child, she decided to delve headfirst into the art of children’s books, and hasn’t looked back since.

Using traditional mediums such as watercolor, ink, and gouache, Eileen enjoys nothing more than the challenge of making characters and worlds come to life on paper. She has had the recent privilege to work on books that range from whimsical fiction, educational fiction, and historical non-fiction. And somewhere in between, she’s always working on the stories that are floating around in her own head. To date, Eileen has worked on multiple books for Sleeping Bear Press, as well as other commissioned work. Eileen lives and works in Cleveland Heights, OH, with her husband, four young children, and two very old cats.

Robbyn, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. After reading this book, I realized I knew next to nothing about bees. The whole book is jammed pack with interesting and fun information. I am going to read this book many times, because I want to absorb every detail. I am glad you are out there helping our most important insect. After looking at your website and seeing the gorgeous photos of your farm, I have the feeling that Eileen captured its beauty with her illustrations. It so nice that your husband uses his woodworking skills to build you the boxes you need – so much talent in your family. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. “H is for honey bee” one of the most interesting book for the kid.


  2. This looks like an AMAZING book! I love that it is so packed with information in the sidebars. As a homesteader, I have always been interested in bees, but too afraid to “keep” them. Can’t wait to read this and learn more about them!


  3. this looks wonderful, my daughter and her family raise bees, and would love this!


  4. Reblogged this on Terry Pierce and commented:
    A beautiful book about this tiny but powerful part of the ecosystem.


  5. Beautiful book about a vital part of nature. Congratulations, Eileen and Robbyn!


  6. What a lovely, timely idea! Very interested to get a closer look at those sidebars.


  7. Great looking book and such a terrific idea for kids to learn about the value of honey bees. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and shared an image on Pinterest with a link too:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com.
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!


  8. Such a fantastic idea for a book–we need bees now more than ever! There’s a bee supply spot near me (Kingston, NY) and I’d love to set up a hive or two on my property like one of my friend’s did. And the illustrations are wonderful, too–congrats! Kathy, I follow your blog.


  9. My parents were beekeepers. I have been hearing a LOT about this book. It looks amazing, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for the post.


  10. This book looks like a winner! I have already created some “buzz” by forwarding this post to my neighborhood beekeeper, Becky Jones, whose honey sweetens my tea every day. I am sure she’ll be buying the book for her grandkids and passing the word along to beekeeper colleagues!


  11. I just love alphabet books to share with my students and this one is perfect because my name, Melissa, means honeybee!


  12. Congrats on your book! It looks like it is full of great info!


  13. What a fantastic book! Congratulations! I spent a good portion of my career as a wildlife biologist helping landowners restore habitat and pollinators are so important.

    I have reposted to Facebook and Twitter. Kathy, I receive your daily blog. Thanks so much!


  14. Wow! I LOVE bees! I keep watch, hoping to get a swarm. But first. I guess I better get a hive and read this book to help me! Congrats! I cannot wait to read this book! Yay!

    I will tweet this post. I also follow by email. 🙂


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