Product Type: Bugaboo prams, pushchairs and strollers
Newest Review: ... the beach with! However I found that there was an 'awkward stage' and many other Bee mothers I have spoken to have agreed that they babi... more
Bugaboo Bee- A few 'bees' in my bonnet!
Member Name: Indycat
Advantages: Light, easy to manoevre and fold, compact, made to last.
Disadvantages: Expensive accessories, not entirely suitable for newborns, brake issues on some older models.
Another great feature is the adjustable handle, which means both my taller husband and I can push it around comfortably. I've also found that by pushing the handle down to its lowest setting, you can compact it even more to create more room in your boot. This also comes in handy if you need to tuck the pushchair away in a cramped coffee shop or restaurant and don't want it getting in other peoples' way.
The bee is an absolute dream to manoeuvre and is a doddle to push one-handed. It comes into its own when scooting around busy towns and shopping centres as you can swerve around obstacles and pedestrians with ease and change direction at the drop of a hat. It doesn't take up much room on the pavement, you can get up and down one or two steps on your own with very little trouble and can generally manage to get around even the pokiest of shops.
For a pushchair of its weight, it feels surprisingly sturdy and the quality of the build is very good (which you would expect for the price tag.) Over 18 months our bee has had its fair share of bashes and knocks and has been over some fairly rough terrain for its little wheels, yet has coped very well and we've had no damage or breakages apart from a few scratches. The five point harness is also fully adjustable and feels very safe, with extra padding over the shoulders. We did find that the squeezy clips on the harness take a little getting used to, however you will probably find similar clips on a whole host of other baby products so you soon get used to them and most importantly, the pressure required to undo them makes them fairly toddler proof. Another safety feature is the wrist strap on the handle, a very simple but effective idea which keeps the buggy attached to you and prevents any likely accidents caused by letting go of the handle.
The bee has a rather large, oversized hood which not everyone finds attractive or useful, however I personally have actually found the hood to be quite handy. When pulled down to its fullest extent, it blocks out a lot of light which can be helpful if your little one is tired and needs a nap and if you get caught in a rain shower, it provides enough cover for 10 minutes or so until you can find shelter or somewhere to fit the rain cover. The rain cover itself is very straightforward to put on and the material feels strong and durable. My only criticism is that it has a rather pointless flap on the front, through which you can supposedly put your child in and out of the pushchair but I have found this impossible and find it far easier just to roll the cover up and leave it on top of the hood. The flap also secures down with velcro, which is no match for a toddler and I often find my son sticking his hands outside into the rain- not a huge problem but he does sometimes end up with slightly soggy sleeves!
Unlike many lighter strollers and pushchairs, the bee can be both forward and backwards facing which is great if you and your child like to watch and talk to each other as you go along. I've found that changing the direction the bee faces is one of the more difficult elements to master but it does get easier with practice. Unfortunately, you can't fold the bee with the base attached in the backwards facing position, which can be inconvenient. You either have to take the base off and fold and store the chassis separately, or move the base to forwards facing and then fold the whole pushchair down.
One of the negative points to consider if you are thinking of buying a bee is that it doesn't come cheap and whilst the quality is superb, you don't get much included in the price. Most retailers seem to count the hood, rain cover and shopping basket as included extras, whereas I would consider these to be as standard. Additional bugaboo accessories are available at an extra cost and are pretty pricey, even from cheaper online retailers. You may be able to find a more reasonable deal on second hand accessories and the re-sell value of bugaboo products is good so you could get back some of your money by selling them on in the future.
We have found that the only official bugaboo products we really needed were the maxi-cosi car seat adaptors and newborn cocoon. The car seat adaptors are essential if you want to use the bee as a travel system by fitting your infant car seat on to the pushchair chassis. Again, this is very easy to do as the infant seat simply clicks into place on top of the adaptors and you can tell if it's correctly installed by the two buttons clicking upwards on either side of the car seat. To remove it, you simply push the same two buttons down and lift the seat off. This is a great feature if your baby falls asleep in the car and you want to move them from car to pushchair without disturbing them.
In my opinion, the bee on its own is not ideal for newborns, mainly as there is virtually no support for such young babies so we did need to fork out extra money for the newborn cocoon (or use the car seat, obviously ensuring they don't stay in there for longer than the recommended time.) The seat base of the bee also does not lie completely flat, although with the addition of the cocoon it does even out a little more. Whilst the cocoon is of excellent quality and ensures your baby is well supported and comfortable, £60-£70 is a lot to pay for something which will only last for a few months.
It's also worth mentioning that the bee is not designed for rough or off road terrain- if you expect to spend more time taking your child on countryside hikes than nipping in and out of shops then this is probably not the pushchair for you. The swivel wheels are lockable to make it easier to push over bumpy ground, however this still won't be very comfortable for your child. It's also very hard to push in any more than 2-3 inches of snow, but to be fair it's not intended for these circumstances in the first place.
Some models bought prior to May 2009 (ours included) may have problems with the brakes, which is important to be aware of if you are thinking of buying a second hand bee (if parked on an incline, ours would rotate through 180 degrees to face in the opposite direction.) Bugaboo has issued a free set of extra brake brackets which can be claimed via their website, however you do need to know where and on what date the bee was purchased. It's therefore worth checking the age of any second hand bee you're interested in and if the seller has fixed the additional brackets if it's an older model. Compared to many other models of pushchair, the seat is not quite as roomy and may be a squash for older and bigger toddlers. I have to admit that it can sometimes be harder to get my son in if he's wearing a bulky coat, however this doesn't seem to affect his comfort and the sides are made of fabric so naturally move outwards with the child. Whether he can still fit in there up to the age of 4 remains to be seen!
Finally, the shopping basket underneath is not that big which may be a problem for people who need to fit lots of shopping in their buggy. I can normally fit one full carrier bag of food shopping underneath and hang my nappy bag full of baby/toddler related paraphernalia over the handle with no problems.
All in all, despite the few niggles I have, I really wouldn't be without my bee. It makes popping into and around town so easy and stressless and is light enough to push up steep hills without feeling like you're going to pass out!
Summary: Fantastic for zooming around shops, makes popping out with a toddler easy!