Decorate a Bees' Tree

Get the buzz on decorating a Christmas tree in honor of our vanishing pollinator friends, the bees.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

©Excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Paige Green.

The Bees' Tree

Carrie Brown, owner of the popular Jimtown Store in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, shares ideas for decorating your holiday tree in her book, The New Christmas Tree (Artisan Books). Her DIY tutorials cover 24 trees, from tabletop to full-size, in modern, elegant, rustic and woody styles. Instructions and images for this project are excerpted from The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown (Artisan Books). 

The Bees' Tree

Brown’s “Bees’ Tree” was inspired by bees, important pollinators that are disappearing from our farms and gardens. Most of her ornaments are handmade from felt or beeswax, but strings of small electric lights make the tree even more "buzzworthy." 

Christmas Tree Container

The Bees' Tree starts with fresh-cut pine boughs and rosemary stems, and a container. Brown used a vintage brass urn to hold her tree, but you can use any watertight container. Weigh it down with gravel in the bottom, so the tree won’t topple over, and insert a grid made from 1-inch chicken wire or hexagonal floral wire. Stick the pine and rosemary stems into the grid.

Hexagonal Layered Beeswax Pendants

To make layered pendants like Brown's, print hexagonal templates on cardstock. Then use a utility knife to cut the shapes from sheets of beeswax. Brown made her pendants in different sizes and glued them together to stack in layers. They’re attached to the tree branches with gold hangers. 

Beeswax-Coated Ornaments

Mercury glass ornaments, dipped in melted beeswax, help the tree go glam. Use a double boiler over medium heat to melt the wax, and hold the ornaments on a chopstick or pencil to dip them. Be very careful not to let the hot wax, steam or water burn you. After the ornaments cool, dip them again, if desired, to add more layers.

Mercury Glass Ornaments

After you've added enough beeswax to your ornaments, and they're completely cool, put them in an empty egg carton until you’re ready to use them. Use purchased hangers to attach them to the tree, or make your own from 26-gauge gold-tone wire.

Beeswax Christmas Tree Ornaments

These two-dimensional hexagonal ornaments, like the layered pendants, are also printed on cardstock and then cut from sheets of beeswax. After the shapes are cut, make a 1” slit on each of them, going from one of the points to the center. Then gently slide two hexagons together to form one ornament. Tie them onto your tree with gold cord or embroidery floss.

Felt Bees as Christmas Ornaments

Brown made her hand-felted bees with wool roving in various shades of black, gray, gold and white. You’ll need a felting needle and 26-gauge gold-tone wire to complete them. Brown says making them is a good project for beginning felters; see her book, The New Christmas Tree, for detailed instructions. 

Making a Beeswax Christmas Tree Crown

Top your tree with a beeswax crown. As with Brown's other ornaments, the shape is first printed on cardstock and then cut from sheets of beeswax. Hexagonal “jewels” cut from natural-colored wax, and rectangles cut from clear wax, are glued to the flattened crown. You can also press on a little gold leaf for extra glimmer.

Beeswax Crown with Antenna

After you decorate the crown, bend it into a circle and glue the ends in place. To make an antenna, crimp a chenille pipe cleaner onto the end of a 10” piece of wire. Wrap the pipe cleaner around the wire a couple of times to make a tiny ball, and cut off the remainder. Repeat for the second antennea. Next, make a circle of wire to fit snugly inside the crown, and attach the antennas to the circle. Ease it into the crown tree topper.

Beeswax Tree Topper

Give each antenna a slight bend for a jaunty look, and slip the crown over the top branches of the tree.

Honey Vials

Look for very small glass vials to hold honey for your Bees' Tree, and fill them from a plastic squeeze bottle of honey. When you're ready to hang them, wrap gold wire or fine cord around the necks of the vials.

The Bees' Tree

If you like, put a jar of honey underneath your tree to make Christmas even sweeter. Check the water in your container and replenish as needed. You may also want to add fresh pine boughs or rosemary stems if your first batch of cuttings starts to dry out.