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The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us

Bee Wilson, Author
Bee Wilson, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $24.95 (308p) ISBN 978-0-312-34261-6
Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4668-7069-7
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-7195-6598-4
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-312-37124-1
Hardcover - 308 pages - 978-0-7195-6409-3
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Food writer and Sunday Telegraph columnist Bee Wilson, who says she acquired her name long before her fascination with the insect Apis mellifera, takes an entertaining look at the extraordinary notions humans have had through the ages about honeybees. She shows how people, lacking until recently any scientific knowledge of how bees live, communicate and produce honey, have projected onto the bee human values and morals. The organization of the hive, for example, is seen as a model of the perfect society; worker bees symbolize selfless industry and the joy of productivity. The bee has been a symbol of virtue, chastity, Christianity, the human soul, good and bad politics, and sex—even though, with the exception of the queen and a few drones, most bees have no sex life at all. After discussing these and other strange ideas, tempering the myths with the facts of modern science, Wilson delves into the evolution of bee-keeping and the history of honey's uses in medicines, beauty products and food, and she even includes a few recipes. There's too much information in too few pages, but Wilson treats her subject lucidly and humorously, and her book is fascinating. 60 b&w photos. (June 5)

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