The Bumblebee Flies Anyway

Book Review

Kate Bradbury. Published by Bloomsbury Wildlife. Hardback £16.99

It’s been a difficult year. I’m only just getting over serious illness myself, and then three relatives have been ill. I’ve been stretched to the limits trying to help everyone. So when I picked up Kate Bradbury’s book, it seemed to have been written specially for me. There’s a message of hope on every page.

Kate’s struggling too. Some kind of crisis. A broken heart. She ends up homeless, sleeping on friends’ sofas. She has to leave London and make a new home in a damp dark, basement flat. Even worse, the garden is a dead place. Decked over and full of rubbish. And yet, Kate’s book is not a tale of woe. It’s about struggling and striving. But ultimately, there’s a message of hope. After pain and suffering there can be triumphs and happiness again. It’s a message I needed to hear. I made myself a reading corner in the greenhouse and tried to absorb the positive vibes. It’s not easy when you are in the middle of a crisis. Sometimes I’d read the same paragraph over and over again, without registering the words. Stress is such a debilitating thing.

Kate turns her decked-over garden into a wildlife paradise. She makes a pond, puts up bird boxes and revels in every creature that comes to live in her tiny plot. It’s not just a book about rescuing a garden, it’s about rescuing a person too. It’s about the resilience of the human spirit. We may be bowed down and almost defeated by life’s events, but we will triumph. Nature, wildlife and gardens are a balm. Wouldn’t you agree.

I particularly love Kate’s descriptions of making a bee hotel and building a pond. I learn that a pond doesn’t need to be more than 30cm deep to be of value to wildlife. I could manage that. There’s plenty of places where I could fit a pond. And her tales of rescuing bees. I’d heard about giving bees spoons of sugar. Kate talks about finding an exhausted bumblebee on the pavement. She pops it in her pocket to keep it warm while she walks home. I’d never thought of doing that. She puts the red-tailed bee in a box with a pop bottle lid full of sugar water. It’s too cold and wet for the bee to go outside, so Kate gently places some shredded paper in the box to make a cosy nest until the morning. Apparently, some bees can be helped by gently stroking their thorax. I looked it up. That’s the part of the body between the wings. I can have a go at that too, if needed. Kate gives me confidence to try. Next day, Kate releases the revived and now grumbling bee. She searches for a mahonia plant to give the bee the best chance of survival.

There are lots of hints and tips sprinkled through the book for anyone wanting to make a wildlife garden.

Regular readers will know that we planted a mini-wood when we moved here, and I grow flowers and plants for pollinators. Now I have a few more good ideas for helping wildlife in my garden. Kate’s inspiring book and joyful message was just the pick-me-up I needed, to be honest.

The publishers have kindly given one free book as a prize for readers of this blog. Usual rules apply. One name will be randomly selected in the prize draw. There’s no cash alternative. Publishers decision is final. Please leave a comment to be included in the draw. Sorry, UK entries only.

37 thoughts on “The Bumblebee Flies Anyway

  1. Hi Karen, I’ve missed the giveaway but so pleased that Flighty won the draw. This sounds like a book that I’d enjoy a lot, I spend so many hours watching the bees, butterflies, lacewings and ladybirds in my veg patch; I always feel very privileged when they visit and stay. It’s very good news that you’re feeling on the mend, I had no idea that you were unwell, you’ve hidden it well whenever I’ve seen you. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how your garden progresses into a wildlife sanctuary! All the very best, xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Caro. Lots of makeup hides the funny yellow colour I’ve gone. I couldn’t face talking about it before, but decided it might help someone else, so I’m just talking a little bit now. But mostly trying to catch up on all the jobs that have got left behind! Thanks for reading and getting in touch. Enjoy the weekend xx


  2. Absorbing – the way you have combined your thoughts on Kate Bradbury’s wonderful sounding book into your blog. Your captivating descriptions of Kate’s remarkable struggle to survive and cultivate the space in her garden and all, it seems, that Kate has managed to achieve against all odds, has made me want to read this book. It reminds me , perhaps, of Amy Liptrot’s , the Outrun which I also enjoyed very much too.

    I hope you are feeling better now too – has no idea of your illness— has thought it was the In- Laws,


    Julie x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree wholeheartedly that gardens, wildlife and nature can be balm for the soul. So glad you found this book at the time you needed it most. It is rare for a book to speak to you, but so wonderful when it does! (This has happened to me with a poem, but not a book…. yet. 🙂 ) All the best. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Karen that book seems written for you. In the end Kate after having a very bad time and suffering a lot, with strength and tenacity wins and makes a beautiful garden for wildlife. It reminds me so much of you when you rescue the bee and prepare a box to spend the night after having eaten water with sugar! And you have done it in reality and you have felt great !!!!! I am very happy that your three relatives are already cured. Thank you for the photo so full of beauty of the greenhouse: so many beautiful plants heal. No wonder you’ve made your hiding place there to read and be calm recovering. The photo of the butterfly on the yellow flower is wonderful. I would love to read that book, but I do not know English. Karen for your family a lot of love and health. For you love and health. Take care. Have a very good week. Very loving greetings from Margarita.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s amazing, I thought I was good with bees but I have never carried one home in my pocket and tucked it in for the night! I do liberate them whenever possible and my garden buzzes through the year. This sounds like a truly uplifting book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A heartfelt and inspirational post Karen. I can connect with a lot of the personal feelings you describe.

    You reminded me, years ago when I was working in busy central London, we found a bee in a ‘trtaumatised’ state in our office. It was, incidentally a warm dry summer. We couldn’t find a lid to the clean empty jar that was sitting on a shelf. So, what we did was to turn the jar on its side and place a smidgin of sweetened liquid inside. We kept a vigilant eye on the jar and its temporary occupant, to make sure the bee didn’t have any problems with our makeshift trauma care arrangements. It was great watching it perk up to full strength and ble to fly off again.

    Wishing you well. Go from strength to strength.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. And I had cause to try this out today. An exhausted bee flew into our porch and looked on the point of expiring. Poor thing kept lifting its leg as a warning- just as described in the book. I got out my makeshift emergency care box, popped in a bottle top of sugar solution, and magically it worked. A few hours later, she flew out, and over the roof of the house. It made me smile. Made me feel happy all day. Such a little thing. Thank you for reading and for your kind words. I’m feeling much better and my relatives are all doing well. I feel a little bit more settled about things. xx


    • Thank you Derek. It was a lucky moment. I just had the camera phone in my hand when that butterfly landed in the garden. It seemed to spend ages just observing me. I wonder what it thought. Thanks again for reading , and for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. It's nice to know I'm not talking to myself on here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s