Justin Ruger: The Joy of Honey Bees and Stroke Recovery

Hello, My name is Justin Ruger. I am the author and illustrator of a new children’s book titled Henry Meets a Honey Bee. Before I talk about my book, I would like to give a little background on myself.

I was diagnosed as hard of hearing at birth–when I had nerve damage caused during birth. I was told that there is a chance that I will go completely deaf in my lifetime. My hearing has progressively gotten
worse, but I am still able to make out high pitches. Low pitches are lost to me.

When I was a child, others thought I was rude and disobedient because I would not follow commands or pay attention to my parents. After testing with an audiologist, we found out the extent of my hearing loss and what it meant for the future.

I remember when I got my first hearing aids at ten years old. We left the
audiologist and I asked my mother what that sounds was. She was confused until I told her it sounded like singing. She then realized that it was the first time I had ever heard a bird singing. It was music to my ears and thus started my love of birds and nature.

My parents had to fight hard for me as a child. I was a straight A/B student and as such the school did not want to award me any help when I voiced my struggles. My mother fought hard to get me an IEP which got me a microphone that hooked up to my hearing aids and my amount of self study time decreased because I could follow along in class.

My mom has started sign language classes with me multiple times, but as a child who was able to hear some I had no interest in it and wish now that I had taken it seriously. I continued using accommodations through out my Bachelors in Computer Engineering and Computer Science as well as my masters in Applied Physics.

Here is where my journey begins for the book that I am about to introduce to you.

I was going to Catholic University for my PhD in Nuclear Physics before a car accident in 2015 caused me to have a traumatic brain injury and lose my knowledge of my education. My mother tried everything she could from crocheting to cooking in order to help me overcome my depression. She split the cost of an IPAD with me due to the changes in my eyesight and I started to draw as an outlet. Thus my love of artistic endeavors was born.

In 2016, my mother opened up Hippie Chick Apiary and we started keeping honey bees. I loved watching her and my siblings take care of them and learning all we can about rearing honey bees. It was such a joy.
As I was looking at children’s books, I noticed that there were many cute books, but none that taught kids about the roles within the hive and how they help us in nature. Thus, Henry Meets a Honey Bee was born. I started working on it in 2019 and in 2020 had a stroke that put the book on the back burner. After two months in an intensive care facility, I was finally able to start working on the book again. It was slow going due to the fact that I still had weakness from the stroke. In 2021, I was getting stronger and able to finish publishing the book. It was officially released, October 09, 2021, on the late Shirley Chaney Lawrence birthday who was my aunt who always pushed me to be successful and complete the book no matter what I had been through.

Henry Meets a Honey bee is the story about Henry who goes on the journey of a life time to learn about honey bees in a unique way. He is turned into one after meeting Honey, the queen bee of a local hive. The book teaches kids about the honey bees following Henry from the perspective of a honey bee. It uses bright, whimsical art and an interesting story to capture the interest of children and teach them all about the roles of female honey bees, how they protect their hives, and the unique roles of the male bees and queen. I hope you find this book
interesting and it teaches your child about one of nature’s favorite pollinators.

Henry Meets a Honey Bee is a testament to what the human body can over come and that just because you are born with a hearing loss, deaf, or experience traumatic injuries you can still be part of society and create whether you are a child or an adult.

The book is available on Amazon or you can get signed and personalized copies from Hippie Chick Apiary.


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