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.

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