Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind (Paperback)
They work hard, are devoted to family, love sex, and know the importance of a good piece of real estate. Honey bees, and the daily workings of their close-knit colonies, are one of nature's great miracles. And they produce one of nature's greatest edible bounties: honey. More than just a palate pleaser, honey was once an offering to the gods, a preservative, and a medicine whose sought-after curative powers were detailed in ancient texts . . . and are being rediscovered by modern medical science.
In Letters from the Hive, Prof. Stephen Buchmann takes us into the hive--nursery, honey factory, queen's inner sanctum--and out to the world of backyard gardens, open fields, and deserts in full bloom, where the age-old sexual dance between flowers and bees makes life on earth as we know it possible. Hailed for their hard work, harmonious society, and, mistakenly, for their celibacy, bees have a link to our species that goes beyond biology. In Letters from the Hive, Buchmann explores the fascinating role of bees in human culture and mythology, following the "honey hunters" of native cultures in Malaysia, the Himalayas, and the Australian Outback as they risk life and limb to locate a treasure as valuable as any gold.
To contemplate a world without bees is to imagine a desolate place, culturally and biologically, and Buchmann shows how with each acre of land sacrificed to plow, parking lot, or shopping mall, we inch closer to what could become a chilling reality. He also offers honey-based recipes, cooking tips, and home remedies--further evidence of the gifts these creatures have bestowed on us.
Told with wit, wisdom, and affection, and rich with anecdote and science, Letters from the Hive is nature writing at its best. This is natural history to be treasured, a sweet tribute that buzzes with life.
About the Author
Stephen Buchmann is an amateur beekeeper, associate professor of entomology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, author of The Forgotten Pollinators, and founder of The Bee Works, an environmental company.
Banning Repplier is a writer who lives in New York City.
Praise for Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind…
"A highly entertaining and informative introduction to the world of the bee."
"Stephen Buchmann's Letters from the Hive is a fascinating and lovingly informative account of one of humanity's greatest accomplishments, our symbiosis with the honey bees."
--Edward O. Wilson, Pulizer Prizewinning author of On Human Nature, and Professor Emeritus at Harvard University:
"Letters from the Hive is the engrossing story of our long and richly layered relationship with bees. It reminds us of the fragile interconnections between all the creatures on this earth."
--Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse Restaurant
"Letters from the Hive is really an extended love-letter--a charming, enthralling, and deeply authoritative window into the sweet, age-old affair between humans and the honey-makers. From the seasons of the hive to the history, properties, and diversity of honey, Buchmann brings us into the confidence of the bees as only he could possibly do."
--Robert Michael Pyle, author of Chasing Monarchs: Migrating With the Butterflies of Passage.
"Stephen Buchmann has done more to advance the conservation of all bees -- and the flowers that depend upon them -- than any other human in history. This intimate history is one very creative soul's lifework. Savor it."
--Gary Nabhan, author of Cross-Pollinations: The Marriage of Science and Poetry
"From the emperor Napoleon to a traditional honey hunter in Malaysia, from suburban Tucson to the dark recesses of a beehive, Letters from the Hive explores the world-wide, ages-long intimacy between Apis mellifera and Homo sapiens. The religion of the bee, the art and the biology of beekeeping, one man's love and his race's long fascination with the honeybee, it's all here--up to and including the treatment of cataracts, how to avoid getting stung, and a recipe for lasagne with honey. I have to say, Letters from the Hive provides everything a beekeeper's apprentice could ask for."
--Laurie R. King , author of The Beekeeper's Apprentice