Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bzzzzzzz: A Knit Bumble Bee!

As a kid, one of my Aunts would add "bee" to the end of names (I was Becca-Bee, she in return was Sue-Sue-Bee...) With this memory in mind, I have designed for you a cute little bumble bee!

  • Knitting Needles: 4 dpn Size 1, (2.5 mm)
  • Yarn: Remnants of KnitPicks Palette Yarn (Fingering weight) in Black, White and Bare (dyed yellow by me, see below).
  • Gauge: Not important for the completed project, but you want to knit tight enough that you will not see the polyester stuffing.
  • Misc: Toy stuffing, yarn needle.
  • Finished Size: 2.25 inch nose to stinger, 1.5 inch wingspan.

Body Construction:
(Starting at the tip of the head.)
1. CO 6 sts in Black. Join to knit in the round and knit one row.
2. Kfb across - 12 sts
3. K across
4. Kfb across - 24 sts
5. K across
6. K across
7. *K6, K2tog* repeat 3 times - 21 sts
8. K across
9. K2, K2tog, K5, K2tog, K5, K2tog, K3 - 18 sts
10. K across
11. *K1, K2tog* across- 12 sts
12. K across
Now starting the body of the fly.
13. Switch to Yellow: Kfb across - 24 sts
14. K across
15. K1, Kfb, K8, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K8, kfb, K1 - 28 sts
16. K across
17. Switch to Black: K1, Kfb, K10, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K10, kfb, K1 - 32 sts
Rows 18-20. K across
21. Switch to Yellow: K1, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K2, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K1 - 28 sts
22. K across
23. K1, K2tog, K8, K2tog, K2, K2tog, K8, K2tog, K1 - 24 sts
24. K across
25. Switch to Black:*K2, K2tog* across, 18 sts
26. K across
27. *K1, K2tog* across, 12 sts
Stuff the head and body with polyester stuffing.
28. K2tog across, 6 sts
29. K2tog across, 3 sts
30. work as Icord 1 round (to make the stinger), pull yarn through remaining stitches and weave in loose ends

For an alternate striping pattern (no pictured): If you would like to try a yellow head and 5 stripes on the body, try Rows 1-12 Yellow, 13-15 Black, 16-18 yellow, 19-21 Black, 22-24 Yellow, 25-30 black.

Wings (make 2):CO 4 sts. Work in Icord for 15 rounds and stitch caston to castoff edges, forming a loop. Sew the two wings in a bow type configuration at the neck of the bee body.

Dyeing the Yellow:
As described in some of my small scale dyeing tales, this yellow dyebath had 1C water, 1T white vinegar and 2 drops of yellow food coloring. The pre-soaked yarn was placed in the dyebath, and the mixture was microwaved on high for one minute and then allowed to cool until all dye was absorbed. The wool was washed in luke warm water with mild soap and allowed to air dry.

I considered making antennas or eyes for this little bee, but I preferred the almost cartoon-like simplicity of the body and wings. If you would like to add a simple Icord eye, see the plushie fly pattern by Chemknits.

Abbreviations Used in this pattern:
Kfb - increase by knitting into the front and back of a single stitch.
K - knit
P - purl
SSK - decrease by slipping two stitches then knitting them together. Alternatively, you could slip one stitch, knit one stitch and pass slipped stitch over.
K2tog - decrease by knitting two stitches together.

This this pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. This pattern is not to be replicated, sold or redistributed without permission from ChemKnits. © 2009 ChemKnits


  1. This is the cutest thing...we do things like that in our family too...when I was growing up everyone had Lou at the end of their name started by Aunt Lou of course...I will make this for my daughter Aimee Belle, affectionately known as Miss B! Thanks!

  2. I just LOVE these little bees...

    So, for anyone who's is the...
    History of the "B" stories:

    OK, the "B" stories came from our last name (maiden name growing up which started with the letter B). These stories were created to distract my little sister when my parents went out and I was babysitting. 'Becca-B' was later coined by my son, after hearing me tell Rebecca some "B" stories, which always starred a character with the listener's name and "B" added on to the end :)

    And Becca-B sure is a busy little bee with all that she does. Thanks for remembering the bee stories of your "youth".

    You are a beautiful "B" inside and out.
    Love, Aunty Susu-bee >:)()<

  3. Please help - what does Kfb mean in knitting abbreviations>

  4. Hi Karen, Kfb means to increase a stitch by knitting into the front and back of a single stitch.

    Here is a good reference for increases (kfb is in the middle of the page):

  5. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I just found it and have made my first bumble bee. Fantastic pattern and very easy to follow!!! Thanks again for sharing!!

  6. You're very welcome, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  7. This little bee is SOOOOO cute! I can't wait to whip one up this weekend!

  8. Hosting a Bee themed babyshower next month for Baby "B"(Bradshaw)....this will be a cute addition to the centerpiece.

    1. This sounds so lovely! I'm glad that my bee pattern will aid the celebration of Baby Bradshaw.

  9. Would you consider giving me permission to make these to sell? A group I belong to is holding a fundraiser this June for a campaign to protect the UK's bee population. I wouldn't be making any personal profit from the design, all the money would go to the campaign. I'll absolutely give credit to you for the pattern, but they're by far the nicest bee pattern I've seen on ravelry.

    anyway, thanks :)

    1. Hannah,

      Of course you may sell the bees for a fundraiser! I would love to see pictures of the little bees, on facebook (ChemKnits) or twitter (@chemknitsblog) or even just through email

      I don't give permission to republish or redistribute this pattern in any manner other than sharing the link. But I am always thrilled to have items knit from my patterns help raise money for charity!


  10. I am a reception class teacher of the busy bees class in a school in Jordan in the Middle East. When children earn ten stars on their bees chart for helpful or kind behaviour they earn one of your knitted bees.
    These are highly prized and a real incentive to the children to remember their manners and be nice to each other.
    Thanks very much for sharing your patternwhich has now gone international.
    Sue Salama.

    1. Sue,

      Thank you for sharing your story with me. I am honored that you have used my bee pattern to motivate students.


  11. Absolutely beautiful. So cute!!! Thanks for sharing.

    Love Joan xx

  12. Copford WI are knitting these bees to go with a local scarecrow competition. We are constructing a beekeeper! The competition is a fundraiser for the village church and we have been holding small knitting groups to produce the bees for our scarecrow entry. I am a non-knitter and I have managed to produce a very reasonable bee so, thankyou for the easy to follow pattern!

    1. That is so cool! I would love to see pictures of the scarecrow. You can email me or share the picture through the ChemKnits Ravelry Group or ChemKnits facebook page (on FB it works best if you tag the photo as ChemKnits for me to see it.)

  13. I belong to a charity knitting group and we are undertaking our first yarn bombing to raise money to help support children with disabilities. I was looking for a bee to go on a knitted traffic cone and this is just perfect, thank you very much for sharing the pattern.

    1. You're welcome. I love that this pattern has helped so many different charity projects. Feel free to email me any pictures from the event, I love to see them!

  14. Hi, I'm new to knitting and would like to knit some bees for a mobile I'm making. But I can't get past the first instruction of knitting in the round. All of the YouTube videos show many more stitches than 6. So I don't know how to join them. Any help that you could provide would be much appreciated. I have circular knitting needles.

    1. For patterns with few number of stitches, such as these bees, it is best to use double pointed needles. There are techniques for knitting few stitches in the round on circular needles, such as the magic loop method. This requires circular needles with a long cable, usually 32" or longer to get the flexibility you need.

      I sometimes start off these patterns using two double pointed needles. (see VIDEO on knitting in the round with two double pointed needles) You can then add a third needle as you get more stitches. (For this pattern, I would use three needles and start with 2 stitches on each needle. Joining to start in the round is similar to when you have many stitches like in the following tutorial.)

      Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  15. Thank you for this lovely Bee Craft! I have mentioned it in my 'Bee Creative Roundup' on my blog. Hope that is okay? Have a very nice day. Best Whishes Christine :)

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