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Honey Bees: Letters from the Hive by Stephen…

Honey Bees: Letters from the Hive

by Stephen Buchmann

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Far more than "bee vomit," honey secured its place in human history very early on. From prehistoric cave paintings depicting honey-gathering straight through modern beekeeping, Honey Bees provides a brief history of the sticky sweet. Buchmann discusses life inside a hive, the origins of beekeeping and the development of the typical man-made hive, and the wide variety of health benefits of honey, from its healthy sweetness in cooking to its antiseptic properties. Appendices provide further information, resources for those interested in beekeeping and/or purchasing geographically-specific honey varieties, and a chapter-by-chapter list of his sources.

The information contained in this slim volume is interesting and the writing is lively, but where the book fails is in its organization. (A full chapter is devoted to descriptions of honeys from around the world, while descriptions of different types of bees, both honey-producing and otherwise, is relegated to an appendix.) One long chapter reads like a travel essay on an author's eco-tourist trip to watch a ritual Malaysian honey hunt, which, while interesting, does not fit the informative tone of the rest of the book. Colony Collapse Disorder, the #1 Bee Issue of the last 10 years, gets only a half-page mention in the Afterword, with no discussion of its potential environmental impact. I have no reason to doubt the veracity of the book's information as a whole, but glossing over CCD makes me wonder what else might be left out.

A good book for upper-elementary and middle-school readers interested in bugs, bees, or honey.

(Admittedly I picked it up because I have Concerns that CCD is going to be what leads to the eventual collapse of civilization. I'm relieved to learn--in this book!--that bees are responsible for pollinating only 35% of our food supply, but horrifyingly that 35% is pretty much all fruits and vegetables. Without bees, we're hosed, and the bees are disappearing. Food is already increasing in cost; a decrease in supply will lead to malnutrition and starvation, which will in turn lead--long-term, I mean--to the eventual "Colony Collapse" of humans. ) ( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 31, 2013 |
Stephen Buchmann is a bee and honey fanatic and it shows in Honey Bees. Beekeeping, originating seven thousand years ago, played an integral role in daily and religious life in ancient India, Egypt, and Rome. The Mayans were unsurpassed in their devotion to ‘their furry honey-making captives’. Buchmann describes bees (they have five compound eyes with thousands of slender hairs growing from its surface) in the right amount of detail. He describes the daily life of various bees (queens, drones, and workers), the structure of the hive, and the processes by which bees make honey and beeswax. Bees are amazing. “…the contents of a sixteen-ounce jar of honey represents the efforts of tens of thousands of bees flying a total of 112,000 miles to forage nectar from about 4.5 million flowers.” Buchmann touches on the history of honey, the merchant trade surrounding it, its medicinal uses and even includes some recipes. He also honors the beekeeper, a unique brand of individual.
Buchmann’s easy to understand yet descriptive language makes Honey Bees an enjoyable read. He touches on every subject relating to bees and honey, includes sidebars (one about L.L. Langstroth who invented the man-made beehive), and stories about ancient rituals still practiced such as the Malaysian ‘honey hunt’ dating to 1100 AD. The book contains additional reading, sources of honey and beekeeping equipment, the chemical composition of honey and more. It is suitable for pleasure reading or for school assignments. It is a worthy library addition. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Apr 7, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038573770X, Hardcover)

In Honey Bees: Letters From the Hive, bee expert Stephen Buchmann takes readers on an incredible tour. Enter a beehive--one part nursery, one part honey factory, one part queen bee sanctum--then fly through backyard gardens, open fields, and deserts where wildflowers bloom. It's fascinating--and delicious!

Hailed for their hard work and harmonious society, bees make possible life on earth as we know it. This fundamental link between bees and humans reaches beyond biology to our environment and our culture: bees have long played important roles in art, religion, literature, and medicine--and, of course, in the kitchen.

For honey fanatics and all who have a sweet tooth, this book not only entertains and enlightens but also reminds us of the fragility of humanity's relationship with nature.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:41 -0400)

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Traces the natural history of bees and honey, focusing on how they have impacted the lives of humans from prehistory to the present.

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