Facebook X YouTube Instagram TikTok NetGalley
Google Books previews are unavailable because you have chosen to turn off third party cookies for enhanced content. Visit our cookies page to review your cookie settings.

The Secret Lives of Garden Bees (Paperback)

Colour Books Hobbies & Lifestyle > Gardening Hobbies & Lifestyle > Nature Photographic Books

By Jean Vernon
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 100 colour
ISBN: 9781526766519
Published: 17th June 2020
Last Released: 12th September 2023



Award Winner!

Jean Vernon, winner of the Beth Chatto Environmental Award 2020 for her piece on gardening for bees for The Telegraph

You'll be £16.99 closer to your next £10.00 credit when you purchase The Secret Lives of Garden Bees. What's this?
+£4.99 UK Delivery or free UK delivery if order is over £40
(click here for international delivery rates)

Need a currency converter? Check XE.com for live rates

Other formats available Price
The Secret Lives of Garden Bees ePub (54.4 MB) Add to Basket £6.99

A friendly, accessible insight into the weird, but wonderful world of the bees you may find in your garden.

From the common or garden bumblebees that nest in bird boxes, compost heaps and old mouse holes, making ‘Winnie the Pooh’ style honey pots to feed their babes, to the quirky wool carder bee; a solitary bee that combs the fluff from garden plants to line her brood cells and the amazing leaf-cutter bee that carves chunks out of plant foliage to seal its egg chambers.

This book will reveal the secrets and fascinating lives of the bees that live and breed in your garden, from buzz pollination, to the bee robbers that cheat the plants and steal nectar by stealth.

With a seasonal guide to explore what you are likely to see in your garden, great plants to grow to help them, plus other fascinating information on these secretive creatures, this book is designed to bring alive the world of garden bees before your very eyes.

Metro Mayor thinks Yeo Valley Gardens tour the bees knees

Read the full article here!

BBP Media

If you would like to learn more about the bees visiting your garden, then Jean Vernon’s book The Secret Lives of Garden Bees is for you. This is not a dry textbook but a very enjoyable read, packed full of interesting facts and stories about bees, the text accompanied by lots of colourful pictures.

The Hardy Plant Society magazine - Autumn 2022 - Vol.43, No.2

Article: 'Metro Mayor buzzing after bee safari'

Somerset Guardian

As featured in

The Bristol Magazine

As featured in

The Bath Magazine

I am fascinated by bees. I’ve so enjoyed reading Jean Vernon’s book, The Secret Lives of Garden Bees; I love the author’s ethos for spreading bee-love! I want to help bee-love spread far and wide and so I’m sharing my appreciation for Jean Vernon’s book with you; hoping that through reading this super book, you’ll fall head-over-heels in love with these intriguing insects and share the same desire to help bees, too.

Read the full review here

Pumpkin Beth

As featured in: 'Be Winter Wise About Bees'

Garden News

I bought this book for a close relative after receiving this in a present from a friend I was so impressed with the Secret lives of bees; they are important for our planet to survive and the author Jean Vernon has provided great images and educates the reader about the bees who live in our gardens in the nooks and crannies and their habitats in our gardens, parks and countryside and explains the U.K has the only population of bees which pollinate our food. I have two bee hotels in my garden for the first bees which can be seen in early springtime when the young bees emerge from their nest site, the Secret lives of bees book has excellent close photographs of the bees the author mentions so we can identify them. It also explains what species of flowers which are rich in nectar to feed the bees and not to use insecticides in your garden. In springtime Queen bees emerge from a long hibernation and dandelion is rich in nectar...It's a fantastic book to read as we are close to winter and gives an insight in what to look for when spring comes to our gardens ....

See the full review here

Amazon Customer, Teddy Brown

Featured in

Modern Gardens, August 2021

As a honeybee keeper I have always been interested in the other 275 bee species in the UK they are a diverse and fascinating group of insects which tend to be lumped together as ‘bumblebees’. Honeybees are covered in summary but this book is really about the diversity of the UK bee world.

This book is a good introduction to the main groups, how to identify them and how to help them survive and flourish as well as what may try to kill them. The book is wonderfully illustrated with many full colour photos which really help with identifying and differentiating bees from other insects, especially flies.

I particularly liked the section on bee-helpful plants and the section on seasons which will also help with identification.

The books is just 191 pages but covers a lot of ground and is a handy introduction to UK bees which gives some good references for those who want to learn more details.

Dominic Vaughan, Suffolk beekeeper

Four easy projects to transform your garden this bank holiday weekend

The Telegraph 29/05/21

AG’s organic wildlife expert Val Bourne finds out some interesting facts from a new bee book

Amateur Gardening, 6th February 2021

Author is Winner of the Beth Chatto Environmental Award 2020 for her piece on gardening for bees for The Telegraph

See the winning article here

Garden Media Guild, 2020 Winner

If you are into bees, then this book is a great read packed with interesting facts about all the different bees you are likely to encounter in your garden, as well as things you can do to encourage more of them.

Paul Hetherington, Bug Life, September 2020

If you’re after an in-depth guide to the bees that populate your garden then look no further than Jane Vernon’s fine book. Covering every type of garden bee you’ve heard of, and many more you haven’t, it guides you through their unique behaviours in a writing style and presentation that are immediately accessible.

With tips on identification, appropriate bee-friendly plants to grow, and the bees seasonal habits, The Secret Lives of Garden Bees will give you a much bigger appreciation of our pollinating pals and arm you with all the information you need to help look after them.

Read the full review here

Two Thirsty Gardeners

Author article, The campaign that aims to save one of our rarest bumble bees: Efforts to save the shrill carder bee will also have a knock-on effect for other wildlife nearby

Read the article here

The Telegraph, July 2020

The colourful narrative radiates the authors love for bees and is punctuated with heaps of beautiful photographs. Easily read from cover to cover or dipped in to when in need of bee identification.

Sunday Express 28/06/20

The details about the various bees of Britain are somewhat astounding, and can easily be translated to the bees you'll find in mainland Europe, the United States or anywhere bees collect pollen and nectar. And gardeners will obtain vital clues about the types of flowers and herbs to plant in their gardens, as well as watering spots you can provide, seasonal plantings and other bee-friendly amenities. There are details, too, on the various threats bees face in the wild and, although Vernon encourages people to lend a hand where possible, she acknowledges the cycle of life that doesn't always favor the bees.

The photography, too, is amazing. You'll get up close, personal glimpses of bees as they fly, feed and otherwise live their simple bee lives.

So, whether you are a budding apiculturists or you simply have a passing interest in the bees buzzing through your garden, The Secret Lives of Garden Bees should be an entertaining and extremely informative read. Good job, Jean Vernon!

Read the full review here


I thought this was a wonderful book, full of helpful tips and facts about bees. I will certainly be using it as my reference guide going forward. Jean’s love and admiration for these fantastic insects really shines through. It is well worth a read!

Read the full review here

The Bonnie Gardener

This book would be worth buying for the amazing photographs alone but it contains so much fascinating information on the wonderful and weird world of bees.

I was completely spellbound whilst reading it and couldn’t put the book down. It is extremely well written. Full of well researched information, but written in a style that makes you smile. I love the author’s description of male bumblebees as being ‘fluffy lager louts, supping nectar and waiting for the girls.’

This is a book that I shall refer to again and again. It really is a book to treasure, like the bees themselves!

For the Love of Books

Jean describes their fascinating lives in minute detail, telling us how to aid them and abet them with planting the right plants to attract them, etc. Most people are now aware of the immense imoirtance of bees to our society, and Jean's new book tells us even more about them.

Books Monthly

As featured by

Garden News, May 2nd 2020

The Secret Lives of Garden Bees is an illuminating read, providing a wealth of information on this most intriguing of insects. If all you know about is the bumblebee and the honey bee, this book will definitely make you bee literate.

Kitchen Garden, June 2020

Jean’s passion for, and knowledge of, bees of all kinds is a continuous thread throughout the book. And it’s gloriously illustrated with stunning photos of all types of bees. During this extraordinary time of confinement, The Secret Lives of Garden Bees* not only brings nature indoors to us, but reminds us that the natural world carries on and encourages us to step outside to take a peek.

Read the full review here

The Unconventional Gardener

I'm aware of bees and have even been known to try and revive a tired one with sugar water on a spoon, but I never imagined that there were so many types of this vital little insect.

Beautiful photography throughout, if a little too close up at times for my comfort. I quickly became fascinated by the descriptions and lifestyles of the different sorts of bees. The bees in my garden must have wondered what was going on when this strange female human was watching them so closely!

I can't wait to add some of the recommended bee attracting plants to my garden. Definitely a book that added to my knowledge of the world.

See the full review here

Amazon Customer, Jayne

Jean Vernon features in ‘My favourite place’

Garden News, 18th April 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a wonderfully accessible book with a primer of bees including places to find them, how to spot them, what their habits are, and what they look like. The descriptions include the proper nomenclature side by side with the common names and all include crystal clear colour photos of each subject. There are chapters full of advice for attracting and supporting both native and non-native pollinators including what *not* to do in one's garden. There's an herbal list with flowing plants which are food rich and attractive to bees and a seasonal guide to the gardener's year with respect to maintaining rich and diverse plant and insect populations.

The book includes a generous assortment of links for further reading and a cross referenced index. The photography is nothing short of breathtaking. There are numerous crystal clear macro shots in which one could (if so inclined) count every hair on the fuzzy bee bodies.The chapters also include lists of tips and advice, arranged bullet style, for supporting and providing nesting and living habitat for solitary bees and other beneficial insects.

This is a lovely and inviting book, well written, scientifically accurate and engaging. Five stars.

NetGalley, Annie Buchanan

It’s important to remember that If we all knew and understood bees better, then we would be better equipped to help them. I’ve relished the opportunity to read The Secret Lives of Garden Bees; I am thrilled to be able to recommend this wonderful book.

Read the full review here

Pumpkin Beth

As referenced in The Bees' Needs article by Hazel Silver

Saga magazine, March 2020

A huge amount of love for garden bees is what shines through in Jean’s writing, she shares this love, along with an abundance of knowledge with us so that we too can come to love these intelligent, interesting insects and learn how to care for them properly. Let’s do all we can to increase their populations.

I will be keeping this bee book handy, I can now find information on the bees in my garden, I will be able to identify more of them and know that I can plant a better range of plants to keep them fed, happy and cared for.

Read the full review here

Plants, Bulbs, Seeds

I cannot recommend The Secret Lives of Bees enough. Alongside the book being a fantastic factual source of reference, which the reader can dip in and out of for planting and habitat tips or bee identification advice, the book is a beautiful photographic record of the life and loves, the ups and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly sides of our dearly cherished but often underrated garden bees. Jean brings all these elements together into what can only be described as a work of art, brimming with personality and I urge you to read it so you too can share Jean's passion for bees.

Read the full review here

Debi Holland Gardening

Jean guides us through chapters on meeting the bees, bee behaviour and bee food. There is a fascinating chapter on the hostile garden. Bees have many threats just waiting for their chance to have a go at them. I worry enough about fewer bees and this chapter helped me understand that bees have enough issues to deal with without us adding to them. There is a very helpful chapter on further reading and a fascinating chapter called 'Citizen Science/Get Involved'. I may have exhaled a happy sigh at this chapter, whilst brief it gives information that helps us all with great practicality get in touch with our inner (and outer) bee.

I finished this book on a buzzy high. It is an excellent book.

Read the full review here

Blackberry Garden

I loved this book. I loved Jean's passion for bees, something that we should all have. The Secret Lives of Garden Bees is essential reading. It's an easy read book, packed with lots of information that even I didn't know about, definitely recommend!

Read the full review here

Tidy Gardens by Jane

I enjoy learning about the natural world and because I do it doesn't take much to please me. I want the technical aspects presented, if any, to be easy to understand. I want to learn new information about the intricacies of the topic at hand. Jean Vernon's The Secret Life of Garden Bees gave me all I wanted... 5 stars for me.

Read the full review here

A Whirlwind of Words

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Was I well informed about bees? Yes. Did I find myself with wild and knew factoids about bees? Absolutely. Am I now more passionate about bees? Yah, you betcha.

NetGalley, Juliana Belizario

Being a keen gardener I'm interested in everything that is related to the gardens and this book was a great source of information about bees.
I learned a lot and I loved the style of writing and how well researched this book is.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

The Secret Lives of Garden Bees by author Jean Vernon is a wonderfully informative instructional guide for all you want to know about bees for your your garden. I had no idea there were so many species of bees and other insects which can mimic bees. The importance of bees for our gardens is imperative for pollination. The book is written in the UK, but knowledge concerning the protection and promotion of bees for gardening is universal.

NetGalley, Diane Lochala

I’ve always loved bees of all kinds, and this is a great introduction to the many different species that are found in gardens in the UK. I enjoyed the lively, informal tone, which nonetheless conveyed plenty of information. Each species that might be in a garden is described, usually with a photograph, and practical tips on how to help them shared. Plants that are bee friendly are suggested. The author also includes a handy seasonal guide, with what bees are likely to be present, and what action to take at that time to encourage more bees. Further reading is suggested towards the end of the book, very useful if you’re wanting more information!

It’s lovely to see even a non-scientific (as the author herself defines it) book with proper references and an extensive index. This is so helpful when you want to look up specific information at a later date.

In conclusion, The Secret Life of Garden Bees is a fun and informative guide to the bees you might find in your garden, populated with beautiful photographs to help with identification. If you want to encourage more bees into your garden, and learn about them, I’d definitely recommend this book.

NetGalley, Roberta Reads

The Secret Lives of Garden Bees is a must-read for bee lovers and gardeners everywhere. While it focuses on bees in the UK, the facts and information on protecting bees will be helpful for everyone. The photography is fantastic and adds greatly to the well-written and informative text.

NetGalley, Kriss Kirkindoll

About Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon writes about wildlife for the RHS Journal – The Garden. She is a contributor to the gardening section of The Daily Telegraph and has written many articles on bees, beekeepers and the needs of garden bees. Fascinated by bees and the environment since a youngster, she is a tree and bee guardian and passionate about championing bees of all sorts. It is her mission to unravel, demystify and explain the intricate balance of nature in your garden and to introduce you to the familiar and unfamiliar bees that live, breed and breathe within the garden habitat.

More titles by Jean Vernon

Customers who bought this title also bought...

Other titles in White Owl...