Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Plan Bee: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Hardest Working Creatures on the Planet - A Review

I love honeybees and am fascinated by them. Too bad they don't like me. Well, I guess it isn't really their fault that I'm allergic to their stings. In spite of the pain and other bad reactions they cause me, they are one of my favorite insects. They rank right up there with the butterflies and lightning bugs.

Honeybees have been a part of my life since I was quite young. I grew up just a few miles from two honey producing and packing businesses. In fact, the son of one of the owners of one of them was in my class at school and was my boyfriend in the fifth grade. My parents used to call him "Honeyboy."

He eventually went on to become the president and CEO of that business, which merged with another honey business in Kansas to form Golden Heritage Foods LLC, the second largest honey packing facility in the nation.
He and his wife, who was also in my class, still live just a few miles away.

Anyway, it was nothing to drive down one of our country roads and see bee hives sitting in the middle of a clover field. About a month ago, Romie and I were trekking through a nearby woods and there were some hive boxes a-buzzin' there. I kept my distance, of course, but it was fascinating to stand and watch the flurry of activity surrounding those boxes.

Recently, I was asked to read and review a copy of Plan‌ Bee: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Hardest Working Creatures on the Planet. It's no secret that I love to read, so when I got the chance to learn more about honeybees in the process, I enthusiastically said, "Absolutely!" Even so, I kind of thought to myself that the book was going to be rather dry and boring after awhile. I mean, really. How much can you say about bees before it begins to sound like an entomology textbook?

Susan Brackney is a beekeeper. She's also an engaging writer who just made me love honeybees even more than I already did. I never once got bored or felt like putting the book down without finishing it. This is good stuff!

Every time I spoon out a bit of honey for my coffee or oatmeal, I'm reminded that anything of real value requires hard work and a lot of it. On average, it takes about a dozen bees to gather enough nectar to make just one gloriously golden teaspoon of honey, and each of those bees must visit more than 2,600 flowers in the process. Crazier still, all those flights from the hive to the flowers and back again add up to 850 miles or so - just over the distance from New York to Chicago.

There's R-rated stuff in the book, too. I don't tell you that to get you to read the book, but how a queen bee attracts her mates and what they do after she's lured them her way is pretty bizarre stuff. In fact, this little book (192 pages and about 5" x 8") is chock-full of amazing facts, history, and anecdotes about honeybees. There's also information about beekeeping, just in case you'd like to try your hand at it, and recipes for making not only food items, but soap, candles, and lip balm.

I think
Plan‌ Bee is the bee's knees. In case you don't know what that means, read the book. It tells you that, too.

Plan‌ Bee: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Hardest Working Creatures on the Planet by Susan Brackney
Perigee Books
List Price: $21.95
Amazon Price: $12.56 (qualifies for Free Shipping on orders over $25)

Susan Brackney is a beekeeper in Bloomington, Indiana. A nature writer whose articles have appeared in the New York Times, Plenty, Organic Gardening, and elsewhere, she is also an avid gardener, an expert on sustainablility, and the author of The Insatiable Gardener's Guide, The Lost Soul Companion, and The Not-So-Lost Soul Companion. Visit her website at

Check out the live BeeCam!

The product or merchandise being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for testing and reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine, with no suggestions whatsoever by the manufacturer or distributor. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.


bg_garden said...

Great blog entry about bee's! LOVE THEM....
I think it would be great to have our own bee's for honey. Maybe my son will get into that someday?! You know they will have plenty of flowers to enjoy if they come to stay at the BGgarden.

Happy Gardening!

Kylee Baumle said...

Bren ~ I LOVED this book! Susan just has a way of imparting information that makes it fun to learn what might be otherwise tedious. But honeybees really ARE incredible creatures. I learned a lot of really cool things about them as I read this book.

She has a baklava recipe in there that I can't wait to try. It's one of my very favorite treats.

Yes, the bees would be really happy if your son should decide to take up beekeeping!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I think bee keeping is interesting. There are some hives not too far from our house. I have heard that people with allergies should eat local honey to help build up their immunity. Not sure how well it works--though I like buying local better anyway.

Sarah O. said...

Kylee, do you like honeybee fiction? This post reminded me of the latest book from one of my favourite authors, Robin McKinley. It's called Chalice, and I imagine you could borrow it through your local library - anyway, it's a sort of Beauty and the Beast fairytale in which the main character's honeybees are a main character themselves.

Seasonal Wisdom said...

This looks like an interesting book. Thanks for letting us know about it. Happy gardening to you, Kylie.
- Teresa

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

OK, the photo of the author kinda freaks me out, but the book does indeed sound like it would BEE interesting! I'll see if my library has it.

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