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.

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