Last Friday we celebrated the Summer Solstice by spending time in our garden, making bees, eating over an open fire, and making a fairy tea party.
The bees were such fun to make. I was inspired by ideas from the book All Year Round which I review in an earlier blog post. The bees have really added to our seasonal table – it is looking lovely and summery!
This tutorial is two parts. The first half tells you how to make naturally orange sheepswool for your bees and the second half is how to make the bees.
Step one: dying the sheepswool
We dyed the natural sheepswool orange using onion skins. It’s so easy – I’ve never used a natural dye before but this is so simple.
All you need to dye the wool is:
– onion skins
– an enamel or stainless steel saucepan (nothing too precious just in case)
– a muslin bag to put the skins in
– clean sheepswool/fleece
First weigh your dry onions skins (we collected ours over a couple of weeks) and then weigh out an equal amount of sheepswool.
Pop the onions skins in the muslin bag and tie securely. Put them in the saucepan with water and leave overnight.
Add the sheepswool to the saucepan with the onion skins in the bag and bring to the boil very very slowly (take about 45mins). Then simmer for another 45 mins.
Take the wool out of the saucepan and allow it to cool slowly before gentle rinsing in lukewarm water. Once dry you should have beautifully orange sheepswool ready to make bees!
Step two: making bees
What you need:
– cones (we used alder ones)
– orange sheepswool (if you have no time to dye you could replace with yarn)
– black cotton thread
– tissue paper
We collected Alder cones off the ground on our dog walk. They are perfect as they are round like a bee and tiny – but any cone can work.
Visit the Woodland Trust website to find out how to spot an Alder tree —>
First wrap tiny bits of the sheepswool around the cone to create the stripes on a bee.
Cut out tiny wings from tissue paper and (this is the fiddly bit) tie them to the bee with black cotton thread. Use the ends of the thread to create a hanging loop.
Bees need antennae and we used pine needles cut down to size and poked in the scales of the cone. Anything natural can work – so see what you can find!
Hang your bee and enjoy!