Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive

Article excerpt

Winston, Mark L. Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive. Harvard University Press, 2014; 283 pp. ISBN: 978-0-674-36839-2 US $24.95 hardcover; 978-0-674-97085-4 US $18.95 paperback

Bees, rarely considered in our daily lives beyond their pollinating role or capacity to sting, are actually vital to our survival. The author, Professor and Senior Fellow at Simon Fraser University's Centre for Dialogue and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, goes so far as to say, "A world without bees would be almost impossible to contemplate and likely one in which we would never have evolved in the first place" (p.7). Bees are as sophisticated in their social behavior as we are in ours" (p. 11 ). With more than twenty thousand known species on every continent except Antarctica, the value of bees to agriculture and natural ecosystems is incalculable. Itinerant honeybees have become an urban trend and are now recognized as integral components of city habitats.

The book concentrates primarily on honeybees, unique in their ability to process large quantities of nectar into the storage form of honey. To survive, each colony requires approximately 130-180 pounds of honey annually. For each pound, tens of thousands of bees fly about 55,000 miles in total and visit more than two million flowers. How honeybees organize their hives, communicate with each other, and efficiently gather the nectar is clearly detailed. The book explores both how bees have long been connected to human spirituality, and how humans feel an intimacy with bees. The chapter on Art and Culture describes bees in fashion, painting, poetry, music and media. Throughout the text are many examples of ways that bees and humans are similar. The author strongly believes that we can learn much about ourselves by observing them. …

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