Learning About Bees With Clan Apis

Last time on Boxplot, I showcased the work of two entomologist comic artists. Despite my love of arthropoda, I had neither drawn nor read many comics about them. Determined to fix that, I immediately went and ordered a copy of Clan Apis, written and drawn by biologist Jay Hosler, and it is absolutely wonderful.

Clan Apis (Latin for "bee") follows the adventures of a cheeky worker bee named Nyuki. The story begins with a brief history of evolution, as told through a honeybee creation myth. We learn that by the time the first land animal crawled out of the sea, insects had long before begun to set themselves up as the most successful and abundant group of animals on Earth. We meet the main character as a curious larvae on the cusp of metamorphosis. Under the tutelage of Dvorah, an adult worker, the reader learns right alongside Nyuki about the life cycle of bees, the cutthroat politics of the hive, and the slave/regent dichotomy of the Queen. Along for the ride are a delightful cast of other insects (friend and foe alike) and even a lovesick flower. With a fine hand and a beautiful story, Hosler makes Nyuki's adventure our own. It took me by surprise how quickly I became attached to the little bee and her cohorts.

Rambling about science all the time in my line of work, I often forget how little I know about the world. Luckily there are other cartoonists out there to show me the way. The oft misunderstood world of bees is much richer thanks to Jay Hosler, and Clan Apis is a must read for any science fan or comic book reader alike. You can find the book on Amazon.

©Maki Naro