I’ve been a huge fan of the Bugaboo Bee ever since it launched in 2007. It seemed to have all of the features that I loved about my Bugaboo Frog – great suspension, car seat compatible, a toddler seat that faces in and out – but it had the added awesomeness of folding up with the seat attached and being super compact. In fact, if the Bee had been around when I was first stroller shopping in 2005, I would have definitely purchased it – we were on a five-floor-walk-up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and only had 250 sq feet of living space! I can still imagine how well that Bee would have fit on our over-the-door coat rack in our tiny space! Despite having the take the Frog apart into two pieces, though, we still loved it, and it remains my favorite stroller to date.
Once I opened up shop (my living room!) and began doing stroller cleaning and repairs, I started seeing a lot of Bees. The most popular color combination was black and yellow (which is still my favorite!) and I can still recall how challenging it was to take apart and clean! While the fabric came off completely, which I loved, there were elastic straps EVERYWHERE making assembly and disassembly quite challenging. In fact, I distinctly remember adding a needlenose plier to my stroller repair toolbox during this time! Needle-less to say – I loved the Bee but didn’t love prepping it for cleaning!
Soon, like many first-generation strollers, the Bee started coming in for repairs. The most common repair was the handlebar locking mechanism. Bugaboo didn’t have an authorized service center set up yet (I was still trying to wiggle my way into their hearts by encouraging them to start one) and out-of-warranty customers were soon finding their strollers difficult to push because their handlebars were sliding down and not locking into place. Luckily I am married to a genius mechanical engineer (and I am of the mindset that ANYTHING is fixable) and together we devised a way to repair the Bee Handlebar. The locking mechanism was easy to create and install, but the challenge lay in accessing the mechanism since the housing parts were riveted together. We became quite familiar with this repair, though, and started helping all sorts of out-of-warranty customers keep their Bee’s going for years to come.
Just a couple of years (and two children later!), the Bee Plus launched in 2010. I can still recall putting my hands on one for the first time and rejoicing at all of the fantastic upgrades. Aesthetically, the Bee changed in a myriad of ways: the canopy was less tunnel-like, the wheels had a new design (fewer scratches on the whites) and the seat lost the “wings” on the sides that made it smaller (the Bee Plus seat was actually made bigger too). Mechanically, the stroller was 1000% improved, imo! The seat could “grow” with a child by extending at both head and leg rest, and, best of all, could be changed from forward to rear facing by a simple two-step process (the original Bee seat was quite the hassle to flip!).
In 2014 the Bee3 came on to the scene and the biggest and best addition, to me, was the ability to add a carrycot (bassinet). In 2014 studies started to come out about the benefits of babies lying flat in strollers vs. being in car seats (better breathing, better core-strength, better for back and spine development) and more and more Americans were beginning to utilize their bassinets. With the arrival of the Bee3, parents could now have a full-featured bassinet stroller that, when taken off, could still be folded and hung up on a coat rack. The new and improved harness system also meant no more twisted straps – a major pet peeve of mine. Mechanically, we stopped seeing front wheels brought in for shimmying issues though we were prepared for how to make the repair as well as show customers how to avoid it.
In 2017 the Bee5 launched and repairs requests dropped dramatically. The handlebar locking mechanism was now accessible as that rivet had been switched out to a screw – thank you Bugaboo Design Team! – the wheels had less build-up, and we were seeing far less breakage on the seat. Aesthetically it looked a whole lot sleeker. The straps no longer showed through on the back of the seat, the wheel caps had become customizable, and the new and improved seat fabric was easier to clean for customers and for us. The handle bars also featured a lovely leatherette instead of the standard foam and could be swapped out to change design or when they became too grimy (check out our blog post on quick tips for keeping your stroller looking and running like new).
Today the Bugaboo Bee5 remains one of my favorite strollers. It handles like a full-sized stroller, the wheels do not wear down (thanks to their high-density foam), the suspension and maneuverability are unparalleled in its class, and it is still reminscent of its big sister, the Original Bee, launched 13 years ago. The fabric is also easy to clean and can really take a good scrubbing. We rarely see rust or mold (common issues on strollers in our CIty by The Bay) and it remains a fantastic stroller that suits from birth on up without compromising your small space status in the world – oh the days of zipping through a crowded farmer’s market unnoticed!
As far as breakage, we see very little these days, save for the ones that come from the airport. Although high-grade, the aluminum chassis and wheels can get damaged from the baggage loading and unloading processes. To minimize damage, always use a padded stroller bag when traveling with ANY stroller. For the Bee, in particular, remove your front wheels and tuck into your bag or bring with you on the plane to avoid axel damage. Remove the front wheel by pressing the white buttons just below the locking mechanism and pulling outward.
Overall, From handlebar to wheels, the Bee is simply an extraordinary stroller that will go down in history as a one-of-a-kind, class-A design that works well through all stages of parenting. The price might be high for some, but considering the 4-5 years of usage, spare parts and authorized service center programs, you will likely not need another stroller or expensive repair during its lifetime. Bonus, Bugaboos hold their value well and have great resale value so you could use your gear and then resell it to a family 5 years down the road for at least half of what you paid for it – clear space in your home, make another family happy and save the Earth!
If new is what you are after (and I was one of you my first time around) consider purchasing in the next month. All Bee5s are 15% off and, if you purchase through Stroller Spa, we will deliver your new Bee5 to your door and offer a FREE cleaning + Tune-up in the first 6 months of purchase.
Have questions about a new Bee5 or any Bee spanning back to its inception? Contact us here or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love talking strollers and are always here to help!