All posts by christinamercerbuzz

Spring In The Bees!

bee on flowerSpring is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, so in honor of all things blooming, I decided to bring a special page from my web site over here to the Emblazoners. Most Tweens I know have a healthy curiosity about the world and all things in it. One creature that should not disappoint in amazing curious minds is the Honey Bee. I’ve spent over a decade working with these fascinating creatures and am still learning about them. Here’s a bit of Bee Trivia that might surprise you as much as it did me:

* Lotta bees

There can be up to 80,000 honey bees in a single hive during the summer months. A queen can lay upwards of 250,000 eggs per year, possibly more than a million during her lifetime.

* Girl power

95% of honey bees are female. One is the queen and the rest of the girls are worker bees. These workers do all the work in the hive: cleaning, feeding and grooming the queen, tending to the larvae, guarding the hive, foraging for nectar and pollen, making honey and beeswax, heating and cooling the hive, basically everything other than laying eggs and fertilizing the queen.

* What’s all that buzzing?

Honey bees have 4 sets of wings that move at a rate of 11,400 strokes per minute, causing their buzz sound. They also use their wings to fan and cool the hive in the summer.

* They mind their beeswax

Honey bees have special glands in their stomach that secrete wax. They take the wax and chew it up to shape into honeycomb–hexagonal wax cells used to house larvae and to store honey and pollen.

* I have a mother, but no father. Say what?

Male honey bees, or drones, are born from unfertilized eggs. So, they have a mother, but no father. A drone’s only job is to mate with a queen, and once he does, he dies. Before that time, he wanders around the hive eating lots of food and doing nothing much else. They are quite large, with big eyes, powerful wings, and tiny mouths. And they do not have a stinger, so are virtually harmless.

* Let’s boogy

Honey bees use several types of dances to communicate with each other. A Round Dance tells of a new source of nectar less than 100 meters from hive, a Wag-Tail Dance tells of nectar more than 100 meters from hive, an Alarm Dance warns that poisonous food has arrived in the hive, and a Cleaning Dance is a request to be cleaned or groomed (sort of like the honey bee’s version of going to a spa).

* Timeless food

Honey is the only food humans eat produced by an insect. Honey bees visit 2 million flowers and travel 55,000 miles to make 1 pound of honey. Each worker bee can make in her lifetime 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. So, when you put a teaspoon of this liquid gold into your tea, you are eating the labors of 12 bees. Honey contains vitamins, minerals, and live enzymes, and it never goes bad. In fact, an archaeologist found a 3,300 year old jar of honey in an Egyptian tomb that was still edible.

* All the better to see you with

Honey bees have 5 eyes: 2 compound and 3 simple eyes. They have hair on their eyes and no pupils. They see one notch right of the color spectrum, meaning they see ultraviolet, but not red. Their compound eyes are best at detecting motion, so they will visit wind-blown flowers more readily than still ones. Almond trees have nectar that fluoresces under ultraviolet light to help bees know which flowers have food (sort of like a restaurant advertising for business).

* A plea for the honey bee

Honey bees are vital to our food production. Every third mouthful of food is produced by bees pollinating crops; 80% of our food relies on pollination somewhere down the line. We humans should do everything we can to keep these wondrous creatures alive and healthy. Setting up a hobby hive in your garden, eliminating the use of pesticides on flowering plants and trees, and planting nectar-filled flowers will contribute to a healthy population of honey bees and other important pollinators.

head shot image extra crop colorChristina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. She enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband and sons, a pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing, visit www.christinamercer.com

 

 

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New “Tween” Release-ARMS OF ANU

ARMS OF ANU is officially released! I’m super excited to bring you the sequel to award-winning tween/teen fantasy ARROW OF THE MIST.

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In Arms of Anu, Lia and Kelven battle through a land of tyrants, war and magic.

Can Lia escape the foes who ensnare her?

Will Kelven’s love withstand the darkness taking root inside Lia?

Is freedom too high a crown to reach, or will they forever remain in the hollows?

“Excellent fantasy story for preteens and teens. Explores a Celtic-style world of magic, with a little romance, through the eyes of both female and male protagonists.”  Indie-Visible Ink

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Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. She enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband and sons, a pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing, visit www.christinamercer.com

 

 

 

Rebels (Tweens & Writers)

Ah, to be a rebel. Rebelliousness can be quite an asset, so long as the “volume” is tweaked just right. This pertains to all sorts of people about all sorts of issues, but I’d like to correlate rebelliousness between Tweens and Writers specifically. Smaller children often buck the system, but Tweens are the real deal when it comes to clashing with what is proper or appropriate or, OMG, “totes” (totally) lame. Older teens are prone to twisting the volume of clashing even higher, which is why I think Tweens might have hit the perfect rebel target. Just enough rebellion and new ideas sprout; adults are reminded of their own inner zest; wearing mismatched socks, sliding down the banister or blaring the newest single might make us “old-ish” people raise eyebrows, but these behaviors are usually innocent expressions that give voice and movement to a soaring mind.

Writers can learn a few things from Tweens. A touch of rebelliousness gives us the freedom to explore storylines that veer away from or give twists to worn out trends. Unique is always “in” within a certain volume range. Tweak your expression too high, and you risk losing readers unable to connect in a solid way to your storyline. Even balloons need tethers, or else they end up withering somewhere in the clouds. Keep your volume flat or too low, and you risk another version of the same-old-same-old that in a word: Bores. Take it from Tweens, freshen and stretch trends in new ways, add crunch to that old burrito with some zesty potato chips or fried mozzarella, work with themes readers can connect to, but add flavors and textures not yet tried. Do that and you are sure to be “tope” (tight & dope–which I’m told is a really good thing).

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Christina Mercer, author of Tween/Teen Celtic Fantasy ARROW OF THE MIST and its sequel ARMS OF ANU, due out in March 2014, writes for children and young adults. She was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakout Novel Award Contest, took Writer’s Best in Show at her SCBWI Regional Conference, and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. For more about her and her writing, visit:

ChristinaMercer.com | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

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