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


Plan Bee: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Hardest Working Creatures on the Planet
by Susan Brackney

208 pages
Perigree, 2009
List price: $21.95






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. It was nothing to drive down one of our country roads and see bee hives sitting in the middle of a clover field. It's fascinating to watch the flurry of activity surrounding those boxes.

When asked to review Susan Brackney's book,  Plan‌ Bee: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Hardest Working Creatures on the Planet, I had my concerns 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 made me love honeybees even more than I already did. At no point did I feel like putting the book down without finishing it.

"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.



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 www.planbeebook.com.

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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (and They Will)
by Chuck Sambuchino

106 pages
Ten Speed Press, September 2010
List price: $14.99





I feel like I should preface this review with a disclaimer: I'm not a fan of gnomes. I don't hate them, but I just don't "get" them either. To me, they're no more attractive or amusing than pink flamingos. (Oh dear. I have now offended yet another group of gardeners.) But being what I believe to be an objective book reviewer, I tried to put my personal feelings aside.

As I slogged through the book (oops...my bias is showing already), I really tried to understand the fascination with these little creatures and how they've taken on a life of their own and have such a cult following. If I'd managed to accomplish this, I might have enjoyed the book more.

It seems to be well-written and lovers of gnomes will likely enjoy the quirky humor within its pages. Divided into four parts - Assess, Defend, Protect, Apply - steps are explained on how to deal with the troublemakers. The supporting photography is creative and Sambuchino clearly knows more about the little bearded guys than one person should. The book is written as a humorous survival guide for those who have found garden gnomes lurking behind the gardenias.

I have a question though - If gardeners who have a "problem" with garden gnomes and their antics manage to banish them from their gardens or at least prevent them from wreaking havoc among the heucheras, on what will they blame such things now?

My sincere apologies to those who love garden gnomes. I've failed in my attempt to be objective. I'm glad that you find them so charming and amusing (and apparently a threat), and you will probably want this book on your shelf. But I'd suggest waiting a bit before spending your money on it. My prediction is that it will be on the remainder shelf sooner rather than later.

Perhaps I will now need a guide entitled, "How to Survive an Attack of the Garden Gnome Lovers."

Chuck Sambuchino is a produced playwright, and a magazine writer, freelance editor, husband, dog owner, and cover band guitarist.  He is the author of Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, 3rd Edition, and editor of 2011 Guide to Literary Agents and the Screenwriter's & Playwright's Market. Sambuchino lives in a heavily fortified residence in a secret Midwest location.





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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.