Interview With Children's Author, Raymond Huber About His Bee Books

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.

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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.

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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?

Raymond Huber:

    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!

For books about bees related to specific themes, see these links below:

Here are books linked with specific themes: 

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