Sisters are doing it for themselves

You may recall we have Tree bumblebees nesting in the birdbox in our garden. A couple of weeks ago I noticed something strange going on there. My husband thought he might know what it was. I ran his idea past the ever wonderful Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and they confirmed he was correct. (Of course!)

What was going on? All is revealed in this video.

Be warned: Maria Callas I am not! Oh, and I’m no Steven Spielberg either! But enjoy, nevertheless …

If you want to know more about Tree bumblebees, you can listen to me perform a poem about one particular such bee (on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour) here.

And you can see me perform a couple more of my bumblebee poems here.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing Poetry to Life



Berberis sawfly larvae 2013

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve not seen any 2-spot ladybirds where I live (in York) this year, or any Painted lady butterflies. And I was beginning to think I wouldn’t be seeing any Berberis sawfly larvae this year either. However, on 14 July I finally noticed a little tell-tale nibbling on my Berberis bush. And on closer examination, turning over a leaf or two, I found your friend and mine, a very young Berberis sawfly larva.

Berberis sawfly larvae, York,  July 2013. Photo by Anneliese Emmans Dean

Berberis sawfly larva, York, July 2013. Photo by Anneliese Emmans Dean

Now, I say your friend and mine, but it may well be that you don’t consider him your friend at all. Not if he’s munching vast swathes of your Berberis bush. We’re lucky here as we only have small quantities of the larvae, so they don’t cause very much damage. Which means I can enjoy their company and admire their beauty!

True, they’re not fabulously beautiful early on, but a week later they’d grown considerably and were a lot more colourful, as you can just about glimpse below (but which you can see much better here).

Berberis sawfly larva, York, 21 July 2013

Berberis sawfly larva, York, 21 July 2013

This is the 8th year in a row that I’ve spotted Berberis sawfly larvae in my garden. If you want my whole Berberis sawfly larvae saga (including the sending of a sample to the Natural History Museum in London for their collection), then make yourself a cup of cocoa, sit back, click here and scroll through the archive of posts!

If you want to skip straight to my video of them laying their eggs,click here.

And if you’d like a Berberis sawfly larvae poem, then why not try my Buzzing! book, which is shortlisted for this year’s Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize!

Anneliese Emmans – Bringing poetry to life

Berberis sawfly larvae 2012

They’re back! For the seventh year in a row, I have Berberis sawfly larvae nibbling at my Berberis bush – as you can see here.

Berberis sawfly larva on my Berberis bush, York, 14 July 2012

Berberis sawfly larva on my Berberis bush, York, 14 July 2012

For the full Berberis sawfly larvae saga, click here and scroll through the posts.

Or, to begin at the beginning,  click here.

Anneliese Emmans

Ledbury Poetry Festival: Schools

Ledbury is a beautiful historic town in Herefordshire that plays host to a fabulous poetry festival each year (where I myself have performed).

Across the rooftops of historic Ledbury

Across the rooftops of historic Ledbury

But the Ledbury Poetry Festival is far from being a once-a-year flash in the pan.  It works throughout the year to promote poetry amongst  people across the age range. And as part of this work, I had the great good fortune to be invited back to Ledbury last week to work in a couple of local schools.

I very much enjoyed my visits to Cradley Primary School and Bromesberrow Primary School, where I was welcomed warmly by the staff and pupils.

Bromesberrow Primary School in Herefordshire

Bromesberrow Primary School in Herefordshire

What did I get up to in these schools? Well, I’ll let the Cradley News tell you:

‘Poet and photographer Anneliese Emmans Dean entertained us all with her brilliant ‘Buzzing!’ show – a selection of her wonderful poems and stunning photographs with musical interludes. We also learned quite a lot of science along the way! Anneliese worked with all the children throughout the day: Years 3 and 4 wrote beetle haiku poems; Years 5 and 6 wrote minibeast poems and Key Stage 1 became a giant millipede!’

There are some very talented budding poets down Cradley and Bromesberrow way, and I very much enjoyed working with them and watching them perform their poems at the end of the day.  I was also thrilled to read some of the poems that KS1 pupils had written in class after our Millipedes Galore workshop. Take a look at this wonderfully imaginative piece from Owen, for example:

Owen's poem

Owen's poem

There are also some talented naturalists. When I got to the ladybird section of my Buzzing! show, for instance, the pupils at Bromesberrow told me they had a whole crowd of ladybirds in the very room I was performing in.  So, I went to have a look, and lo and behold it was  a cluster of Harlequin ladybirds.

Harlequin ladybirds in Herefordshire

Harlequin ladybirds in Herefordshire

I had heard of Harlequin ladybirds massing like this, but I’d never actually seen them doing so. They provided a very useful springboard into our beetle poetry writing. But I’m not sure I’d like a whole host of them in my house!

I’m letting the Harlequin Ladybird Survey know about this sighting. If you see Harlequins where you are, do tell the survey.

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in my Herefordshire adventure, including the wonderful Fran Godfrey, who ferried me through beautiful countryside to the right schools at the right time, Victoria Patch and Chloe Garner of Ledbury Poetry Festival, and Alan who allowed us to stay in his beautiful house.

And if you’d like to be edu-tained with my ‘brilliant’ Buzzing! show at your school, just get in touch:

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing Poetry to Life

Penultimate Buzzing! photo …

As I type this, the wonderful designers at Brambleby Books are busy designing my (soon-to-be-published) Buzzing! book. I have delivered around a hundred of my minibeast photos to them for inclusion in the book, but I have been missing two key photos – until yesterday!

Yesterday, John and Katy invited me to their bee hive here in York.  Katy opened the hive up specially so I could take photos of the honeybees and honeycombs.

Katy opening up her bee hive

Katy opening up her bee hive, York, 30.10.11

I hadn’t realised it would be such an adventure, involving both Katy and me donning protective suits. But what a fabulous adventure! The beauty and industry and precision of the bees was astounding.

Anneliese marvelling at the honeybees, York, 30 October 2011

Anneliese marvelling at the honeybees, York, 30 October 2011

I took lots and lots of photos (getting a fair bit of beeswax on my camera in the process!) so as to be sure to get a good one for my Buzzing! book. Now I just have to decide which photo to use! Will it be this one, I wonder …?

Katy's honeybees at work, York, 31.10.11

Katy's honeybees at work, York, 31.10.11

The photo is to illustrate my honeybee poem, ‘Floella’, which celebrates the geometrical virtuosity of honeybees. Having seen their honeycomb so close up for myself now, I’m even more impressed by them!

Thank you so much to Katy and John for taking the time to share their honeybees with me.

So, now I’m just left with one photo to find. Anyone in the York area got a wasps’ nest I could come and photograph? If so, do email me fast!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing Poetry to Life

New Year’s Eve on Woman’s Hour

I had the great good fortune to spend New Year’s Eve in Manchester, being interviewed by Jenni Murray on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. During the interview I performed several of my poems, including ‘Madame Honfleur’ (about the Tree bumblebee that recently arrived on our shores) and a new poem specially commissioned by Woman’s Hour for the New Year.

Listen to me on the programme

The BBC's Manchester studios, where I went for my Woman's Hour appearance

The BBC’s Manchester studios, where I went for my Woman’s Hour appearance

I’ve been taken aback by the massive amount of feedback I’ve had from this appearance –  people sending wonderful comments to me by email, tweet and facebook, and ordering my Buzzing! CD and my ‘2009 in Rhyme’ CD. Thank you to all of you who’ve contacted me. It’s great to know I’ve put a smile on so many people’s faces.

2010 has been quite a radio-packed year, one way and another, beginning with a poem for Julia Booth on BBC Radio York in January, and moving on to a commission from the Radio 2 Arts Show for World Poetry Day in March and one from the BBC World Service in October.

So, now we’re into 2011, and I’m looking forward to including some of these poems in the Rhymes of the Times show I’m performing on Saturday 29th January as part York Residents Festival, and the Buzzing! show (that will include ‘Madame Honfleur’) that I’m performing at York Theatre Royal on Saturday 19th March.

Hope to see some of you there! (email me for details)

Meanwhile, Happy New Year  to one and all!

Anneliese Emmans

Edinburgh Fringe 2010

I’m back now from performing my award-winning eco-show Buzzing! at the Edinburgh Fringe 2010. What an experience – with 6 consecutive shows and a live interview (and poetry performance) on BBC radio!

Outside our venue at the Edinburgh Fringe

Outside our venue at the Edinburgh Fringe

I was performing, with my musician John Rayson, at venue no. 28, the Patrick Geddes Room at the gorgeous Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

With John Rayson at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, for our Fringe run

With John Rayson at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, for our Fringe run

How did our run go? Well, I’ll let our audiences tell you:

‘As soon as the show finished, I turned to mummy and said “I wish it could have gone on all day!”‘ Alex, age 11

‘My daughter (age 6) loves minibeast hunts and she loved this show. Great sounds, great visuals – what’s not to like?’ Deborah Curd,

‘I thought she was amazing, mad, creative and John’s music was mind-blasting!’ Nina, age 10

‘Fascinating – gripping from start to finish.’ Bill (retired)

‘Really interesting and exciting. The poems and songs were amazing and the pictures were absolutely stunning. The whole show was wonderful.’ Gemma, age 11

‘Learnt so much in such a short space of time about my garden friends and enemies.’ Pamela (retired)

‘The best show we’ve seen at the Fringe!’ Klara (9) and Julian (12)

And we had this review from  Primary Times:

‘For all eco enthusiasts, minibeast fans and nature lovers, this is an absolute must.  But even if you are not one of the above, this is a terrific show with poetry, songs, music and incredible projected photography. Anneliese Emmans Dean is not only passionate about her subject, she is also a gifted performer and can’t fail to enthuse her audience. My children, ages 10, 8 and 5 years, were gripped throughout the show.  They particularly enjoyed the ‘guess the photo’ as images changed to the accompaniment of the viola player.  They were fascinated by the poetry, and how different styles of delivery created the identity of each insect. One girl in the audience amazed us all with her incredible knowledge of entomology, but there was chance for everyone to be involved.  Whilst the show itself was very educational, the style was great fun, and stimulated many questions for after the show.  All the children (and most adults!) were awash with questions for Anneliese, and whilst she brilliantly answered them all, she also encouraged us to seek out more for ourselves.  She has definitely re-ignited our interest, and given us some more great ideas to fill the remainder of the summer holidays.’

So, all in all, job well done!

Many thanks to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for hosting us – especially to Amy for her impeccable and extremely friendly organisation, and to Sheena and all her staff, and Giles and Anna. To Yvonne and her family (especially Lewis) for all their marketing work on our behalf. To Nina for her warm welcome. And to my husband Mike for being front of house staff, flyer-giver-outer, chauffeur, roadie and general factotum.

And a huge thank you to all our audiences – a very international bunch, from Scotland, England, Singapore, Venezuela, Ireland, Spain, USA … and no doubt other countries I didn’t find out about. Thank you for coming along, and for being so enthusiastic about our show. I wish you all happy bug hunting, wherever you are!

Fancy putting on a Buzzing! show where you are? Then contact me, Anneliese, on

Find out more at my website,