Book Review - Dancing with Bees by Brigit Strawbridge Howard

You had me at 'moomins'.....

No, of course, you had me at bees.  I asked for a review copy as I was very keen to review this book. I need to be transparent as I have not paid for this book, but my words and opinions are totally my own. Little did I realise when I received my copy what a delight of a book it would turn out to be/e.
I wanted to review this book as I love watching bees in the my garden.  I know there are many different types of bees but I recognise very few of them.  I hoped this book would teach me more about bees and it has; but this book is not a bee-identification book, it is not a bee-encyclopedia; it is a love story for bees.

This books meanders through the seasons, pausing here and there to talk about bees, bee habits (good and bad) and important bee information.  Just as bees do not live separate from the world, Brigit weaves the bees stories around elements of her own life and the natural all around her.

Myths are dispelled and information is given.  There is a really interesting section on bee hotels and the importance of maintaining bee health.  A bee hotel can be a haven for parasites who live off bees as well as the bees themselves, so hygiene is very important.

Brigit explains about the threats to our bees from pesticides and mentions the vitally important book from Rachel Carson 'Silent Spring'.  Whilst it is probably bad manners to mention someone else's book in a book review (sorry) but if you have not read this seminal book, published way back in 1962 and yet still as relevant now as it ever was, then can I heartily recommend it (after you have finished Brigit's book first- obviously).

This book is just a delight to read.  I enjoyed every moment of it and I learned a lot from it.  It is a book with great depth; the chapter 'The Upside Down Bird' is touching and written from the heart.

Brigit leads us on the best of dances with bees.  Brigit follows the bees through the book, making them central to the narrative and then threading narrative around them.  I found it hard to categorise this book, which is not a bad thing.  It is a not an educational tome, but you will learn a lot from it; it has more of the person in it than a lot of nature writing I have previously read and it is a thought provoking superbly crafted read.  It is a book I could identify with almost straight away as I too wanted to wake up in Moominvalley as a child (I think I still do) and I understand the tension between loving nature and yet realising how little I know about it.  Whilst it might feel early in the year to mention the 'C' word, if there is a festival in December that you celebrate by giving gifts to loved ones, I'm fairly certain they will love you even more if buy this book for them.

Dancing with Bees is published by Chelsea Green Publishing and retails at around £20 but can be found for less - buy it, it will make you smile.


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