Book Review - Letters to a Beekeeper by Steve Benbow and Alys Fowler

I first heard of this book way back in 2013 when I saw on Twitter that it was in the process of being crowdfunded.  Alys Fowler and Steve Benbow were using the Unbound website to fund their project to bring this book into being.  I thought about it briefly and decided it was worth a contribution.  The project reached its target and contributors were informed that the book would now happen.

Time passes, in truth I will not mislead you, a lot of time passed and at times I wondered if the book would ever be.  Crowdfunding books is not a speedy process;  lesson learned! Apparently they have to write the book and get it published (quel surprise!).  I received an email every now and again telling me it was progressing and this kept me happy that one day the book would be mine.  Then the magic email arrived checking my details and saying delivery was imminent.  Well, that was more exciting than an exciting thing.
I also have to admit I was not really sure what the book would look like, well I have to tell you, it is a total delight.  Firstly, as ever, I wanted a proper book.  You can get a digital version and whilst I am by no means a Luddite, when it comes to books it appears I am.  I have written previously (repeatedly) that I like the feel and heft of a book.  This book is quite heavy and a rather pleasing square shape.  Books are not often square and whilst this might make it not shelve uniformly with other books (who wants uniformity?) it gives it character before you have opened it.
When you do open it you soon discover the contents are a mixture of charming letters between Alys and Steve.  Alys writing in different coloured inks and Steve writing and sketching on scraps of paper and backs of envelopes.
There is also lots of superb photographs many of which were taken by Steve.  As you would expect there is loads of information about bees and beekeeping.  It is written in a conversational and accessible style.  As the book progresses and you follow Aly's journey into beekeeping and to the development of a bee-friendly garden at Tate Britain.  This book, most of all, is a story of Steve and Alys's friendship and their letters to each other show a warmth and mutual respect.  They have the perfect balance of having their own area of expertise and a wish to share that knowledge.  I love this book, it's that kind of book that I realise whilst I am reading it I am learning and smiling - two of my favourite things.


  1. I often wondered if it was going to materialise as well, but then voila! It's a really interesting book and I'm glad that I was a part of it being published. I hope it gains a wider audience.


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