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A Bee in a Tree
David Chisnell, Lecturer and toy designer.

This robust threading toy can either be used by a child playing alone, or with an adult to help, it becomes a "to and fro" toy. The adult holds the tree between them, and threads the bee from her side through to the child. He threads it back. This toy is also excellent for using in a group situation for it is all in one, and there are no parts to be mislaid.

You Need

  • An old table tennis bat with the covering removed or a piece of ply.
  • A short length of dowel for the bee.
  • A length of thin cord. Blind cord is best as it will not kink.
  • A saw or fret saw if you cut out your own tree.
  • A drill bit large enough to make the holes for the bee to fly through.
  • A small drill bit, the size of the cord, to make a hole in the back of the bee, and another in the trunk of the tree.
  • A dab of strong adhesive and a matchstick, for fixing the cord in the bee.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Paint and polyurethane varnish.


  1. Assuming you are not using a table tennis bat, make a paper pattern for the tree. Fold a sheet of paper in half, and draw half the tree against the fold. Flange out the bottom of the tree trunk to make it easier to hold.
  2. Cut out the paper pattern and draw round it on the plywood.
  3. Cut out the tree shape from the plywood
  4. Drill holes - bee size - at intervals in the leafy part.
  5. Drill a small hole in the trunk for the cord.
  6. Clean up all the rough edges with sandpaper.
  7. Now for the bee. Cut the dowel to size, round off the head and smooth the end with sandpaper.
  8. Drill a small hole in the end for the cord.
  9. Squirt some glue into the hole and poke in the cord. A needle will help to feed it in.
  10. Wedge the cord firmly in place with a small piece of matchstick coated in glue.
  11. Paint both sides of the tree green, with a brown trunk.
  12. Paint the bee yellow with black stripes.
  13. Protect all the paint with two coats of polyurethane varnish.
  14. Tie the other end of the cord to the tree.
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A Bee in a Tree