In Defence of Bees By Noël Sweeney
From Book Reviews/Interviews

Author: Noël Sweeney

Reviewers: Several

Publisher: Alibi

In Defence of Bees
In Defence of Bees
Available at
ISBN-13: 978-1872724140


He looks at the value of bees, honey bee history, how dangerous bees can be, he examines in depth and width negligence in both principle and action by bees, beekeepers, farmers, neighbors and the like. He talks of pests, crime against bees, and finally searching for the soul of a is one of the best histories of keeping bees I’ve run across. What happened when and why, and what happened because of it shape much of the legal issues bees, beekeepers and the world we inhabit together enjoy, or endure, depending on which side you are on.
- Kim Flottum, Editor, Bee Culture Magazine

Undoubtedly the most important bee book of the year by an expert in all forms of animal law. Will become the classic work on the subject and needs to be read by all those who have anything to do with bees.
- John Phipps, Editor, The Beekeepers Quarterly

This is a fabulously interesting book: the final chapter considers neonicotinoids and concludes that law is the only moral system that can now save bees. Highly recommended for anyone who cares for bees and the future.
- Bees for Development

Sweeney has the rare gift of explaining technical law in a way which is accessible to lay people and students, without trying the patience of experts by adopting sluggish pace. There are sufficient ideas in each page to captivate any audience’s attention; the cocktail of perspective analysis, humour and whimsical detail is reminiscent of the work of the late, great tort and comparative lawyer Tony Weir. Even those who think that they have a reasonable level of background knowledge about either bees or private law are likely to be surprised by new discoveries... It is highly recommended.
- Reverend Dr Helen Hall

About the Author:

My legal practice as a barrister involves complex and serious cases for the prosecution and defence. The areas I cover include animal abuse, armed robbery, discrimination, drug-dealing and murder.

Since its introduction, I have taken a special interest in the Human Rights jurisprudence because of its impact on all areas of English Law. It has a direct relevance to the welfare and ‘rights’ of all of us and no less on whether an animal has a right to live.

I have lectured and written widely on the subjects relating to my practice. I have had a long-term interest in animal law, especially their legal role and status. Animals are treated as our ‘property’ as a matter of law. While ecologists and philosophers and environmentalists raise valid issues, the only method of changing the position of animals within our society is by law. Only the law can change their status so animals are accepted and valued in their own right as living creatures. Rights, whether they relate to humans or animals, run with life itself.

The Black Lives Matter movement gathered momentum following the murder of George Floyd. Yet when we say ‘All Lives Matter’, we limit the idea to humans. So I wrote An Animals’ Charter to analyse ‘animal rights’ as the major moral crusade of the 21st century. Animals are secondary to human interests because they do not have the ability to resist us. We make money subjugating animals much as slavers made money subjugating people. Animals are hamstrung by being denied a human tongue. They need An Animals' Charter to reflect the truth that Animals' Lives Matter too.

I wrote Doris and the Grumpy Judge for a new generation as a tale that parents could read to their children as a bedtime story. The story seeks to teach children the value of kindness to animals and the meaning of justice. Doris is a ‘rescue’ dog. Katy, her 9-year-old owner, claims Doris bit her. Doris appears before the Grumpy Judge who decides she is ‘dangerous’ and sentences her to death. Doris has no friends and no voice. The only one who can save her is the man who hates dogs: the Grumpy Judge.

The current crisis of ‘climate change’ has highlighted the significance of bees to our planet. In Defence of Bees shows although small in size, their rise and fall mirrors the health of our planet as bees are a bellwether for us and a lodestar for our law. In Defence of Bees proves the world can exist without us, but cannot survive without bees.

Straying from my academic work, I wrote a rock ‘n’ roll novel, English Hungers. Sam Spurns is a lawyer and a singer with the band, English Hungers. Spurns’ prosecutes three thugs who abuse an animal resulting in her death. They call their friends to support their false alibis and are acquitted. Spurns feels she betrayed the victim who died in vain. Spurns changes her life, burns her legal bridges, becomes an eco-outlaw Joan of Arc to wreak revenge on the animal abusers as a band of avenging angels.

Blue-bird sings the Blues is lightning-strike poetry that illuminates the roots of animal abuse. The poems analyse the connection between racism, sexism and speciesism including trophy hunting and a Suffragette force-fed as if she was foie gras. The poems include the English slave traders whose history is told in the Voyage of The Zong. The poems ask whether we are heading towards an Animals' Armageddon while the last Blue-bird sings the Blues?

My main interests outside of law are music and poetry. I have collaborated with the legendary Liberation Drummer on songs with an animal rights theme. I am keen on rambling and woodwork and have passed the time by making a carriage clock and a pendulum wall clock. Most of my writing is done at a desk I made of American black walnut. Many of my ideas ferment on my rambles as there are many wild sights to satisfy any mind while hiking beneath a sunny Somerset sky.

Countryside rambles are the catalyst for my writing as the images and sights that unfurl prove that by saving a single life you can save the entire world. 

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