Little Bee Review

Left to right:
1. Bosworth
Open, pop out treadles, put in locks
2. Little Bee
Lower foot support, Pull tab and lift up top, make sure tab locks
3. Victoria
Pull tab and lift up, Attach Footman, Attach Bobbin and flyer
4. Hitchiker
Attach the flyer and bobbin
I lined them all up because I’ve read reviews of people comparing the Little Bee to one or another at some time. I don’t plan on writing an extensive review of all of them at this time but I wanted to be able to compare a few at least in size and ease of set up.

Little Bee
Is it easy to set up? (+)
Yup. It’s not heavy. It would be easier to carrier with the tote that is offered but it’s not difficult as it is. Though I also don’t have a problem carrying any of the other 3 I’ve mentioned above either. They’re made to be portable and that they are. It’s also a simple set up. If you note above, I mention the steps to setting up each of the 4 wheels I wanted to talk about and this is easy. Just be mindful when you pull out the knob to release the wheel to close it up again. It will come down fast so you need to hang on to it or keep your hands out of the way.

Bobbin size(+)
It’s about a 4 ounce bobbin. I heard some people mention that they were excited to see a small portable wheel with a giant bobbin. I can get the same on this as I can on the Victoria. 4 ounces comfortably. Personally I don’t like a giant bobbin unless I’m doing novelty anyway so 4 ounces is plenty.

Tensioning system (-)
It’s the same as the Mach1. Sort of. The Mach 1 and Bee have enclosed scotch tension system. It means that unless you are quite experienced, you can’t change the system like you can on most other wheels. Like I often change the springs out for hair elastics because I can get a much touchier/accurate working The pain in the butt about the Mach1 tensioning is that it’s on top and thus always riding the brake so to speak. The Little Bee has the tensioner on the side. I have to say this isn’t my favorite tensioning system. I’m going to monkey with it to see if I can make improvements to make it work how I prefer. As of now though it’s not at a level that I prefer to make certain types of yarns. It’s good for the average yarn but something like a fine fine long draw gossamer, it’s not quite there. Many wheels need to be monkeyed with but this is a difficult case since the tensioner is all enclosed. I’ll let you know if I come up with something.

The treadling
This is what I hear drives so many people to the Mach1 and now the Bee. The Bee is uncomfortable for me to treadle. The Mach1 was easier to get footing and to treadle and I could keep it running happily with one foot. The Bee’s treadles aren’t centered so it’s an odd feeling when you’re using one foot. If I use 2 feet then the slowly slide off. I was trying to be really conscious and keep them going but they kept sliding back. Finally I found a footing that worked but it wasn’t comfortable. This may be one of those cases where it’s a “user” thing and this is why we say to people to try wheels before they buy. My legs ached after working with this for 20 minutes. I worked in short intervals over a couple of days to complete a few hours time on the wheel but the problem persists for me.

The speed.
yup. It goes fast. The drive band that came with mine was too short to adjust it to the 35:1 ratio so I wasn’t able to do that one unless I got a new drive band. Changing the band from one ratio to another at the base (you change things at the main drive wheel and the accelerator wheel to make it faster or slower) was a pain in the butt. Presumably so because mine was too short to move to the larger size of the Main drive wheel it wasn’t cooperating. I played with all the other ratios except that one. All the rest worked well.

This wheel like all the others has pluses and minuses. The treadling problem I had is a personal thing. I urge people to try this before purchase as I do with any new wheel. The treadling may fit your body type perfectly. It’s not a bad wheel and if it’s comfortable for you and you are ok with the tensioning system then this might just be the wheel for you. Lucky for us (who are all so different) there are so many different wheels out there available to us that we can all find a travel wheel that will suit us.

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4 Responses to Little Bee Review

  1. Nicely done review — I agree, try as many wheels as you can!

    On the tensioning — I’ve been thinking of maybe getting a second tension block and cutting the leather strip on it in half, so there’s less contact area. I don’t know if that would help, but with brake bands, a thinner band usually gives you better control of tension at the least-tension end, so I’m thinking it might. Haven’t tried it yet, though, been busy with an alien in my lungs (I love how Billy Jonas describes colds!)

    So I’d love to hear what you come up with, too.

  2. Scott says:

    Woohoo!!! I can’t wait to try this wheel. I want to love it. It is an affordable wheel that can put out some awesome ratios.

  3. Mary says:

    Thanks for the review! I think the Bee is a great idea. Maybe if they were open to some input from the expert spinners like you and Abby, this could eventually become a great wheel! How’s the Journey spinning?

  4. Mia says:

    While I haven’t seen the Bee yet, I just didn’t feel the love for the Mach 1 the first time I saw it. Okay, I was a totally new spinner a few months back but it just seemed like it would be a pain to change things. And the treadling was uncomfortable for me. I had problems getting comfortable treadling it too. I hope you can find a way to tweek this wheel.

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