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Barbara Rustin


Here’s something I never thought I’d be doing - introducing myself as an author on my own website. Though I have always been passionate about all kinds of reading and my enjoyment of children’s books has long outlasted my childhood, I never imagined myself writing one.

My early career was in publishing, working for Victor Gollancz, Chatto and Windus, and Jonathan Cape. I took a career break when I got married and we moved out of London and started a family. I always maintained my link with the publishing industry though - working freelance as both a reader advising on the acquisition of French books and doing some translating - whilst I simultaneously did a Fine Art degree.

The curved comb bees will construct when left to their own devices. Image: Nigel Rustin.

The curved comb bees will construct when left to their own devices. Image: Nigel Rustin.

I have stood as a Green councillor and, when not writing, painting and enjoying my family, I like to support the many organisations that do innovative work campaigning on behalf of the environment and human rights. You might bump into me in the British Museum taking part in one of Art not Oil’s imaginative demonstrations – or find me lying on the ground outside the Houses of Parliament if required to do so by the Campaign against the Arms Trade.

It was whilst in France, my second home, that I became interested in bees. From local beekeepers I learnt of the catastrophic bee losses they were experiencing and what they suspected was the cause. I decide to do my own research and, together with my husband, Nigel, to keep bees in order to do our small bit to redress their dwindling numbers and to better understand their world. We currently have four hives in London and one in France.

Our hives in France. Image: Nigel Rustin.

Our hives in France. Image: Nigel Rustin.

Bee Alert! - my first book - was born out of the desire to increase awareness, not only of large-scale bee disappearances but of their causes and implications. But I felt that the information should be embedded in an exciting story and that is what I set out to write.

Although the book is for children, it will, I hope, amuse and inform adults too. A mystery story, it concerns not only the life of bees and the causes of their current plight but the related threats to other wildlife and even to human health.