bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

New bee books from North America

Bonanza! reports on four new books relating to honeybees:
Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold That Seduced the World (Free Press) is beekeeper Holley Bishop's chronicle of 10,000 years of honey and its various and significant roles in medicine, religion, science, mythology and the arts. She visits a professional beekeeper in Florida and records his daily activities as he "robs" the bees of their honey.

In Sweetness & Light: The Mysterious History of the Honeybee
(Harmony), Hattie Ellis travels the world, from New Zealand to Utah (the Beehive State), visiting people who have been inspired by bees and honey. She also explores how bees, honey, beeswax and the hive's honeycomb structure have influenced history, religion and the arts; how bees communicate through lively, elaborate dance.

Four centuries of beekeeping, from colonial times to today, are reviewed in Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation (The University Press of Kentucky). Author Tammy Horn, herself a beekeeper, offers a cultural, social and technological history of beekeeping, from the time the practice was introduced into the New World by the British as a form of livelihood and sustenance to the present, when bees are used by the U.S. military as "bomb-sniffers."

The various ways in which bees and honey have enriched people's lives since prehistory are discussed in Letters From the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind (Bantam) by Stephen Buchmann with Banning Repplier. The authors focus on bees' link to humans; the role bees and the hive have played in art, literature, medicine, religion and cooking; and the importance to humans of conserving bees' environments. Also included are honey-based recipes.


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