But are there not more than enough bee books?
—Karl von Frisch
Von Frisch’s question has haunted me throughout the process of compiling this book. For those interested in how to keep bees, many fine writers already exist. For those who want to read about the joys of beekeeping, better books than this one are already on the market. Even scientists and researchers have found an appreciative general audience. Von Frisch decided to “give the reader the interesting part of the subject, without the ballast of practical instruction.” The result is The Dancing Bees; he won the Nobel Prize for his life’s work in honey bee communication in 1973.
Now, I offer another bee book, better defined by what it is not than what it is. Absent are the latest statistics about honey, beeswax, or imports. Nor will this book prepare anyone to don a veil, grab a smoker, and head for the nearest bee tree. i am not a biologist.
So why keep reading? The answer is my desire to examine the values associated with being an American, as complicated as that definition can be. No two values have been so highly regarded since colonial days than industry and thrift. No better symbol represents these values than the honey bee. Furthermore, although almost no part of our culture re-