Dancing with bees A journey back to nature

Brigit Strawbridge Howard

Book - 2019

The author shares a charming and eloquent account of a return to noticing, to rediscovering a perspective on the world that had somehow been lost to her for decades, and to reconnecting with the natural world. With special care and attention to the plight of pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees, and solitary bees, she shares fascinating details of the lives of flora and fauna.

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Subjects
Published
White River Junction, Vermont : Chelsea Green Publishing [2019]
Language
English
Physical Description
xix, 282 pages : illustrations (black and white) ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781603588485
1603588485
Main Author
Brigit Strawbridge Howard (author)
  • Preface, realisations
  • Introduction, the honey trap
  • Spring on the wing
  • A nest of one's own
  • What's in a name?
  • The boys are back in town
  • Bees behaving badly
  • The upside-down bird
  • The cabin by the stream
  • Cuckoo, cuckoo
  • On swarms and stings
  • To bee, or not to bee
  • Seeking the great yellow bumblebee, part 1
  • Seeking the great yellow bumblebee, part 2
  • On bovey heathfield
  • In praise of trees
  • Sedgehill, a natural history
  • Cotton weavers
  • Time for tea
  • Evergreen
  • Amongst the snowdrops
  • Epilogue, reflections.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* There are about 20,000 different bee species on our planet. In naturalist and bee advocate Strawbridge Howard's informative and entertaining book, we learn that honeybees are not the only kind of bees pollinating flowers and trees. There are also several varieties of solitary bees making homes for their offspring in the ground, spaces between stone and wood, even in empty snail shells. Throughout this engaging, richly descriptive tale of natural discovery, the reader feels as if she is learning alongside the author. In chapters titled "Seeking the Great Yellow Bumblebee," Strawbridge Howard takes readers on a magical mystery tour to the remaining vastness of the Caledonian Forest of Scotland, an ancient old-growth stand mostly of Scots pine. As she searches for bees, she notes that wild boar, Eurasian lynx, brown bears, and even gray wolves once roamed beneath the shadows of these trees. When the "distinguished" great yellow bumblebee is eventually spotted, we share the author's delight. Towards the end of this winsome book she writes, "I have been blessed with the ability to see miracles in everything around me." The reader will feel the same. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* There are about 20,000 different bee species on our planet. In naturalist and bee advocate Strawbridge Howard's informative and entertaining book, we learn that honeybees are not the only kind of bees pollinating flowers and trees. There are also several varieties of solitary bees making homes for their offspring in the ground, spaces between stone and wood, even in empty snail shells. Throughout this engaging, richly descriptive tale of natural discovery, the reader feels as if she is learning alongside the author. In chapters titled "Seeking the Great Yellow Bumblebee," Strawbridge Howard takes readers on a magical mystery tour to the remaining vastness of the Caledonian Forest of Scotland, an ancient old-growth stand mostly of Scots pine. As she searches for bees, she notes that wild boar, Eurasian lynx, brown bears, and even gray wolves once roamed beneath the shadows of these trees. When the "distinguished" great yellow bumblebee is eventually spotted, we share the author's delight. Towards the end of this winsome book she writes, "I have been blessed with the ability to see miracles in everything around me." The reader will feel the same. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

This autobiographical memoir by a grassroots environmentalist and "green lifestyle" advocate is set in a small semi-rural community of England, where the author undergoes personal changes in adult life and becomes a self-taught naturalist. Strawbridge Howard describes how she overcame her lack of scientific background and embraced the discipline of natural observation with enthusiasm, in response to a reawakening of childhood ambition. Indeed, in narrating her subsequent experiences of particular observations she reveals an almost childlike perception. As the story unfolds the author gradually becomes increasingly enamored of all sorts of bees and spends countless hours observing them. Also described is her newly acquired understanding of biological taxonomy and information seeking. Personal life experiences, such as the death of the author's mother, are also interwoven in the story. Two chapters are devoted to a trip to Scotland in search of the rare great yellow bumblebee. Explanation about the drastic decline in numbers of bees resulting from pesticide use and climate change alternates with highly introspective accounts of specific sounds made by bees. Although this book is highly personal, often resembling a diary, the reader is bound to learn much about bees, and will not be bored by the knowledge. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.--F. W. Yow, emeritus, Kenyon CollegeFrancis W. Yowemeritus, Kenyon College Francis W. Yow Choice Reviews 57:06 February 2020 Copyright 2020 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Stunned to realize she knows more about the French Revolution than the natural world around her, Howard resolves to rectify the situation by specializing in the study of bees. In her home garden, at her allotment, and in different wild areas of Great Britain, including the Outer Hebrides, the author observes the mating, nesting, and foraging behaviors of her favorites—bumblebees and solitary bees. She expands on her knowledge by using identification guides, reading books and scientific papers, and consulting bee experts, sharing here her observations about their lives, ecology, and the plants that attract them in this fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of nature in Great Britain. Interwoven throughout is information about Howard's life, plants, other pollinators, and birds, as Howard expertly advocates for bees. VERDICT This satisfying memoir of a woman's reawakening to the importance of nature in her life will appeal to fans of natural history memoirs, bees, the natural world, or ecology, as well as those who enjoyed Dave Goulson's A Sting in the Tale and Meredith May's The Honey Bus.—Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove, IL Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 WAINWRIGHT PRIZEA naturalist’s passionate dive into the lives of bees (of all stripes)—and the natural world in her own backyardBrigit Strawbridge Howard was shocked the day she realised she knew more about the French Revolution than she did about her native trees. And birds. And wildflowers. And bees. The thought stopped her—quite literally—in her tracks. But that day was also the start of a journey, one filled with silver birches and hairy-footed flower bees, skylarks, and rosebay willow herb, and the joy that comes with deepening one’s relationship with place. Dancing with Bees is Strawbridge Howard’s charming and eloquent account of a return to noticing, to rediscovering a perspective on the world that had somehow been lost to her for decades and to reconnecting with the natural world. With special care and attention to the plight of pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees, and solitary bees, and what we can do to help them, Strawbridge Howard shares fascinating details of the lives of flora and fauna that have filled her days with ever-increasing wonder and delight.