“Life in the Seven Kingdoms is never dull . . .” 

–Jen McConnel, School Library Journal


How a castle protects bees and a new Valentine’s Day fairy tale

This castle holds the answer

Mayen castle and Bee castle

Bees are the magic ingredient in a new Valentine’s Day fairy tale set in the world of the Seven Kingdoms. (more buzz after the bees 🙂

Trouble at the Valentine Factory would only be half a story without the bees. That’s why we’re visiting the town of Mayen in Germany.

How does their castle protect more than people?

The bee project in Mayen keeps careful track of the weight of their bees. A sign next to the castle gives some details: (my translation is below)

What this sign says:

“Bee Population 408” lives in Mayen’s Burgberg castle and are one of the 500 bee populations in Germany that are weighed every day.

Every five minutes.

Why do we care?

In the early weeks of the year, bees eat more than they store. The bee colony as a whole weighs less. When the bees begin to store pollen, the bee population gets heavier. Tracking the weight shows when the bees stop collecting pollen because they lose weight continuously until the end of the year.* (My translation. For the German, see note below.)

Every red dot on this map is a bee population that is under study. Type “Mayen” into the search box to find the one at their castle.

How much DO bees weigh?

The answer: 100 bees weigh about 10 grams (o.o2 lbs)

Bees might not weigh much, but the bees are no lightweights in the newest Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale. 🙂

This was supposed to be a short story . . . but the cupids woke up the bees and things got out of hand.

200 pages later . . . ta da! 

Wisteria growing against a house in practically no soil at all

Wisteria growing in Mayen

Even the paved sidewalks and buildings in Mayen have shelter and snacks for bees.

Sweet things in this old vending machine . . . for people

re-purposed cigarette vending machine

This vending machine on the street offers sweet things for people.

Valentine’s Day isn’t a holiday that German schoolchildren celebrate. I’ve never seen candy hearts in the store. But there are lots of holidays with sweets.

Carnival is celebrated by people of all ages and the big event is a parade on Rose Monday.

Lots of sweet things are tossed from the parade floats to the crowds. People watching the parade have bags and even inverted umbrellas to catch the goodies.

The Rose Monday parade falls on a different day every year, some years on February 14th: enter Valentine’s Day.

An American holiday in the Seven Kingdoms?

Trouble at the Valentine Factory is about what might happen if a troublesome queen introduced a new holiday–Valentine’s Day–to try for the attention she craves.

The eleven-year-old Saffron twins, Princess Saffy, and Prince Magellan** have to stop her, because her magically charmed rude hearts make everyone hate everybody!

What a miserable holiday!

Do you know Saffy and Magellan?

**You might know Saffy and Magellan from the third book in the series: Under Pressure With a Squash: The Multiplication Problem.

If you don’t know the twins and their dragon yet, that’s no problem. This new Valentine adventure happens BEFORE that story.

*German original:

” In den ersten Wochen des Jahres fressen die
Bienen mehr als sie sammeln und die Bienenvölker werden leichter. Ab
Trachtbeginn sammeln die Bienen mehr und legen Vorräte an. Damit nehmen
die Volksgewichte kontinuierlich zu, mit Ausnahme von Trachtlücken. Auch
das Trachtende wird sichtbar, wenn die Gewichte wieder kontinuierlich
bis zum Jahresende abnehmen.” –Source TrachtNet Deutschland