Raymond Huber has written 2 books for children aged 6 to 12: ‘Sting’ and ‘Wings’. Not only are these books about bees, they are adventure story books!
I thought I’d catch up with Raymond, and find out more about the stories, and why he chose to write about bees. Below are Raymond’s great answers to my questions.
BuzzAboutBees: You’ve written a number of books, but for obvious reasons, the books ‘Sting’ and ‘Wings’ are of interest here - both are stories in which the main characters are bees! That’s unusual (and refreshing) in an adventure. What made you decide to choose bees for characters?
Raymond Huber: I was given a beehive on my 40th birthday and became fascinated. But bees were also a gift to me as a children's writer – here was a creature that talked by dancing; had magnetic crystals and a selfless weapon; and kept the human race alive. I still had to shape characters but different species suggested personalities: eg. meditative bumblebees, edgy wasps.
BuzzAboutBees: Can you give us a brief outline – what are the books about?
Raymond Huber: Sting and Wings are children’s novels about Ziggy, a young honey bee. He’s rejected by his beehive, kidnapped by the human military and eventually discovers his real family are a team of super bees (think Mission Impossible with bees). When bees start disappearing, Ziggy and his family face their biggest challenges: a deadly pesticide and a gang of Giant Hornets. Animal fantasy meets sci-fi.
BuzzAboutBees: What was the inspiration for developing the stories?
Raymond Huber: I wanted to write the kind of book I loved as a kid — mixing thrills, humour and a very small hero (I loved The Hobbit). My plots grew from news reports about the worldwide bee crisis and US military training bees (true); and seeing some of my bees die from pesticide poisoning.
BuzzAboutBees: Which are your favourite characters in the books, and why?
Raymond Huber: Torgo the hornet grew from my love of sci-fi movie monsters; Fang the snake reflects my love of puzzles; and Ziggy the bee is optimistic despite the odds. I suppose they're all bits of me.
BuzzAboutBees: Whilst reading the book, will the reader learn anything about the life of bees and the problems and challenges they face?
Raymond Huber: The story is told in first person/bee so the reader sees life through his eyes. I tried to keep the biology 'reality-based' (the bees don't drive cars, they navigate) and there's an appendix with bee facts. But the characters' emotions are essentially human – I think young readers need characters they care about and an exciting story; and they absorb the facts.
BuzzAboutBees: Are there any funny bits in the books?
Raymond Huber: I do enjoy word play – so much that my editor made me cut half the puns. There's also some satire: the pesticide corporation is called Slayer for good reason. There are also some geeky TV geeks references, such as the bees' farewell, "Bee seeing you", from The Prisoner.
BuzzAboutBees: I see you are a beekeeper. How long have you been keeping bees, and what do you like most about them?
Raymond Huber: I got my hobby hive about 10 years ago. I like watching them flying, building, eating, cooking, defending. I love that something so small can be so much: ”The little things are infinitely the most important” said Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (probably why Sherlock Holmes took up beekeeping).
BuzzAboutBees: What’s your favourite fascinating bee fact?
Raymond Huber: Bee dance is the second most complex language of all living creatures on Earth.
BuzzAboutBees: What’s your favourite honey recipe?
Raymond Huber: Honey baked lentils from the More With Less Cookbook (Google it). Makes monotonous lentils mellifluous.
BuzzAboutBees: What would be your top 5 tips for helping bees?
1. Get to know bees – they aren't scary.
2. Plant things with flowers.
3. Avoid pesticides, especially the new systemic ones.
4. Leave a few weeds or let the lawn grow long (encourages diversity).
5. Buy local honey.
BuzzAboutBees: Thank you Raymond for your time!
Here are books linked with specific themes:
Links to books I have reviewed and Q&As with authors.
Bees Fun Stuff
Visit this page for puzzles and free clip art to download.
Honey Bee Facts
Honey bees really are amazing little creatures! Read more about the wonder of honey bees with these quick and snappy facts!
10 Ways To Help The Bees
Everyone can do something to help bees. Take a look at 10 possible things you could do to assist our buzzy friends!
The Magic Of Pollination
Honey bees and other creatures are helpers of humankind and other creatures of the earth, simply because they pollinate flowers, helping food crops and plant life to grow and flourish. Watch these wonderful and spellbinding short video clips showing different pollinators (bees, butterflies, bats and birds) in action!
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