The World of Bees | Science & Technology

Required reading for anyone contemplating becoming a beekeeper; natural history enthusiasts will also find the subject matter compelling

Coté, Andrew. Honey and Venom: Confessions of an Urban Beekeeper. Ballantine. Jun. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781524799045. $27. NAT HIST
Coté could possibly claim the title of Beekeeper to the Stars, having worked with Spike Lee and Michelle Obama, among others. These star encounters are sprinkled in among Coté’s musings on a year in the life of an urban beekeeper. As founder of Bees Without Borders, an organization dedicated to promoting beekeeping as an antidote to poverty, Coté also provides consultations to potential beekeepers on this ancient art. Readers travel with him to Uganda, Haiti, Ecuador, Iraq, and through all five boroughs of New York as he instructs on beekeeping best practices. Framed by the calendar year, the book shows the complete honey-making cycle, and introduces some of the eccentric characters that make up his New York beekeeping community. Coté also shares his exploits as one of the best-known beekeepers in the community; he is routinely called in to consult on many interesting cases, and we, the lucky readers, get to hear some of them in this charming read. VERDICT Fascinating, not only for the beekeeping information, but also for the urban-wildlife interactions involving bees. A good companion for anyone contemplating apiculture.—Diana Hartle, Univ. of Georgia Science Lib., Athens
 
Jukes, Helen. A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings: A Year of Keeping Bees. Pantheon. May 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781524747862. $26.95. NAT HIST
This first book by Jukes is part memoir, part natural history of bees. We learn that of the 20,000-plus species of bees in the world, only a small fraction make honey, and this small fraction is currently threatened by a host of issues: pesticides, parasites, climate change, and shifting patterns of land use that have resulted in habitat fragmentation. The author describes other issues facing bees, including the prevalence of crop monocultures that may sustain them during the crop’s growing season, but then leave them without sustenance once the crop is harvested. Jukes shares insight on her decision to become a beekeeper, a prospect that means she must pay attention to weather patterns, ensuring that she begins at an optimal time for her bees. Along the way, she researches the history of beekeeping, with special reference to François Huber (1750–1831), who made many important discoveries about honeybees. Throughout her journey, we see the importance of nature and the potentially devastating effects our separation from nature can lead to. VERDICT Required reading for anyone contemplating becoming a beekeeper. Natural history enthusiasts will also find the subject matter compelling.—Diana Hartle, Univ. of Georgia Science Lib., Athens

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