Dancing with Bees – Book Review

Brigit Strawbridge Howard captivates, informs and inspires in her entrancing new book Dancing with Bees

Dancing with Bees by Brigit Strawbridge Howard is published by Chelsea Green Publishing
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Find yourself a big comfy chair, preferably outdoors, or within sight of your garden or the countryside. Prepare a long refreshing drink and immerse yourself in wonder as you join Brigit on her journey.

‘Dancing with bees’ is a delight that unravels, demystifies and helps us reconnect with the beautiful, precious and natural world.

‘Dancing with Bees’ transports you right into the magical and intricate world of nature. Its accessible approach allows you to walk with Brigit as she discovers, unravels, explores and learns more about different aspects of the natural world on her doorstep and beyond.

Brigit takes you from your ‘normal’ headspace and firmly engages with your heart as you delve into her world of precious creatures, illuminated with her beautiful descriptions and fascinating tales. It’s a gentle but rich introduction into not just wild bees but other flora and fauna too. Brigit shares her passion and knowledge at every turn of the page and takes you into bee world and beyond in all its guises and gore and glory. It’s a very gentle way to devour facts and information and it’s delivered with such grace and beauty that you don’t even realise you are being bee washed at all.

It is her tales of the wild bees, her generous sharing of her depth of knowledge, her detailed observations and her words that really bring it alive to the reader. It’s like a personal audience with the Bee Queen herself. Her descriptive, informative prose is dripping with fascinating facts about bees. If you haven’t fallen head over heels for our native, wild bees when you start reading, you will be completely besotted after just a few chapters.

Nature table

We learn with Brigit in this book. As she gets her enquiring mind around the complex taxonomy of pollinators her charming analogy using kitchen cupboards as a credible metaphor gently informs, unraveling the science for the less scientific.

You are there with Brigit in the moment. You can visualize the surroundings, hear the birdsong, breathe the fresh air and really feel her passion, just from her written words.

Brigit just loves finding and photographing bees and other insects
Image: Jean Vernon

It’s like a living nature table, as she introduces each and every item for our delectation and attention and breathes life into it, tantalizing all the senses with her words.

Distant shores

In the book we join Brigit and Rob on their three month trip to the highlands and islands of Scotland where they explore the Caledonian forests, lochs and beaches and meet ospreys, the great yellow bumblebee, corncrakes, white tailed eagles along with a variety of wildflowers, wild birds and rugged landscapes.

Her descriptions of the wildflower rich Machair landscape is exceptional, you are totally transported to the place and can see and breathe her vision as she tantalises all the senses with her words.

Late summer Narnia

As the seasons progress through the chapters of the book, you can literally step through the looking glass into the real but very magical world of nature, to which many of us close our eyes. Dance with Brigit to reconnect with flowers and insects you may have long forgotten and allow yourself to fall in love with new and exciting species that you may have never heard of, like the heath potter wasp, that crafts little clay pots to lay her eggs.

The Gypsy Cuckoo Bee Bombus bohemicus – Illustrations by John Walters

This book is just perfect for anyone with a love of plants, wildlife and the environment. It is packed full of advice and information on what to grow and how to help the delicate balance that exists in nature. For example, simple suggestions for the birds, like which trees to plant are sensible and achievable: “If it is birds you want to provide for, then you might consider trees like crab apples, hawthorn or holly, that produce large quantities of fruits and berries. For insect-eating birds, choose those that support large communities of invertebrates, like oak, ash, willow and birch.”

Nature detective

As Brigit identifies new species she is fired up to learn more and shares her realization that she has in fact become a nature detective in order to find out more about her new discoveries. We learn with her and every chapter is a fresh, annotated nature table to devour and savour each and every discovery. The book actually plants more seeds in our minds and opens doors to new strands and interests as Brigit herself explores and learns more about the creatures, plants and even the people that she meets.

Healing powers

Gardening is now a prescribed therapy. Forest bathing is a recognised healing technique and just being in nature is known to restore something inside us, evoking a sense of well-being. Reading this book creates hope that the message will spread, that more and more people will see the wonder in not just the diversity of bees and insects but in the whole tapestry of life, it’s intricacies, its beauty and the importance of every single stitch that makes up the whole.

‘Dancing with Bees’ is an inspiring read. If you can immerse yourself in Brigit’s fresh and beguiling wonder totally and transport yourself to another dimension you will derive much more than the sum of its parts. This is a book you can return to again and again as you reconnect on your own journey back to nature.

Dancing with Bees – A Journey Back to Nature is published by Chelsea Green Publishing. Price £20

Illustrations by nature artist John Walters.

Launch date September 5th 2020.

Jean Vernon

About Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon is a slightly quirky, bee friendly, alternative gardener. She doesn’t follow the rules and likes to push the boundaries a bit just to see what happens. She has a fascination for odd plants, especially edibles and a keen interest in growing for pollinators especially bees. She’s rather obsessed with the little buzzers. Telegraph Gardening Correspondent, mostly testing and trialing products and Editor-In-Chief for Richard Jackson’s Garden.
@TheGreenJeanie
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