Bees: Nature's Little Wonders Hardcover – Sep 8 2008
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Bees: Nature's Little Wonders, is a timely celebration of these queenly insects and their importance to our ecosystem. Savage flits and buzzes around her fascinating subject matter with typical curiosity and flair . . . Bees is abundant with stunning photos and quaint heritage graphics, while bee-themed verse by poets like Lorna Crozier and Emily Dickenson add a nice literary touch. —Toronto Star(2008-08-25)
Bees may be the sort of book you will find in the bathroom at a cozy bed-and-breakfast establishment, but it is nonetheless a useful and delightful little book, lushly illustrated and complemented by sidebars containing poems, bits of folklore and so on. —Globe & Mail(2008-10-18)
Behold the honeybee, striped provider of sweetness and light to humans for thousands of years. These bugs certainly make Cheerios taste better, but could it be that we as a species have something to learn from their behaviour? In Bees: Nature's Little Wonders . . . Candace Savage maintains that we do. 'Unlike human groups, which often seem less intelligent than the individuals who make them up, a swarm of bees is always smarter than the sum of its parts.' —National Post(2008-11-14)
This is a honey of a little book in more ways than one. It is all about bees, insects many of us were fascinated by as children, as we watched them move from flower to flower, collecting honey . . . This is a wonderful book that makes you appreciate the bee world all the more. Great for children or adults, this book should BEE on your shopping list! —Shelf Life(2008-12-16)
Savage proceeds to intertwine a thoughtful study of bee biology with poems, fables, and ancient religious texts, weaving a unique history of the honey-makers that have enchanted humans for centuries. —Sierra Club(2009-03-19)
Bees: Nature's Little Wonders will be a favorite reference book for years to come. The mix of science, folk-lore, quotes and images is splendid. —Bee Scene(2009-05-01)
About the Author
Candace Savage is the author of more than two dozen books, including A Geography of Blood, which won the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. She divides her time between homes in Eastend and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
One thing that I got from reading this book was a heightened respect for Von Frisch and Landauer, both for their elegant experiments with bees and their anti-Nazism while working in Munich, not an easy political stance from 1932-1944, when Von Frisch moved back to Austria just before allied bombs reduced the Zoological Institute to rubble. By comparison Konrad Lorenz collaborated with the Nazis (even becoming a member of the party!) and wrote some very embarrassing articles that caused an estrangement between him and his Dutch student Niko Tinbergen. Tinbergen spent much of the war in a Nazi internment camp. Lorenz, Tinbergen and Von Frisch shared the Nobel Prize in 1973, but in my opinion (and in the opinion of many critics at the time) the last two were the more deserving. As noted by Savage, Von Frisch and Landauer's conclusions were challenged, but their results were confirmed by several other researchers.
Bees are fascinating and necessary creatures, who (as Savage points out) are not the mechanical automatons of popular science. Their relatively complex dance language was at first hard for some researchers to accept, but now it is routinely studied. This little book gives the reader a basic look at the life, behavior and history of bees, especially the honey bee, and is I think a great starting point for further reading, or at least for a new appreciation of these important pollinators for the general reader who does not want to go further.
What a surprise! Less is more! Over the course of this book, author Candace Savage says more about bees than most "esteemed" academic writers say in hundreds of pages. It is refreshingly readable.
Perhaps her greatest gift is in the telling of the work of Karl Von Frisch and Martin Lindauer. Over twenty-five pages, she capsulizes their research in figuring out the bee dance as it relates to foraging behavior for nectar, water and pollen. The Nobel prize in Physics was awarded in the 1970's for this cutting-edge research.
I loved the short segment entitled "Bee 107," a single bee marked by Lindauer in 1949 that he observed continuously for hours on end. Bee 107 was seen as capable of changing its behavior as needs of the colony changed. As a house bee whose duties would typically involve doing different tasks at different stages of its life, Lindauer's direct observations of Bee 107 revealed that she spent considerable time "just looking around, to "find something that needs to be done." Not limited by her "stage," Bee 107 actually engaged in a multitude of behaviors which included everything from feeding larvae, cleaning cells, grooming the queen, capping pupae, building comb, storing pollen and nectar, capping honey. Bee 107 identified the work to be done on an as-needed basis, shifting tasks accordingly.
I have read many other bee works. Savage's concise, spot-on narrative cuts to the chase!
Savage thanks bee researchers Gene Robinson of the University of Illinois and Tom Seeley of Cornell University for their read-through and vetting her narrative. She identifies Tom Seeley as heir-apparent and worthy successor to the research developed by Lindauer, mighty big shoes to fill.
Seeley has conducted years-worth of experiments on colonies as they swarm and seek new colony-nest sites. He has a new work just out on this subject. His painstaking research on decision-making in honey bee colonies documenting the process of contest and compromise in the search for "collective wisdom," has implications for human behavior.
Savage provides a rich bibliography for future reading. She has included interesting poems and sayings in text boxes from a wide variety of sources along with artwork. Five stars!
artwork and layout. The information on the diversity among bees,
their life cycle and the historical research was very interesting. My
only disappointment came at the end when the promised section about
causes underlying the current honey bee population drop was short and
lacking in detail.
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