The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America

Hannah Nordhaus. Harper Perennial, $14.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-187325-6
In this revelatory, bittersweet investigation into the state of commercial beekeeping in the 21st century, Nordhaus follows the migratory life of a commercial beekeeper, John Miller, as he trucks his bees between California and North Dakota, pollinating almond orchards, defending his territory of "bee yards" (flowering pastures), collecting honey, and, against all odds, keeping his bees and his business alive. It turns out that colony collapse disorder, which recently brought awareness of bees and their essential agricultural function to an oblivious public, is only the most recent of numerous threats to bee health, from 19th-century plagues of wax moth comb invasion to more recent infestations of tracheal and varroa mites that "killed nearly every single one of the continent's feral colonies, obliterating the wild bees that once did much of the work pollinating the nations crops and flowers." According to Nordhaus, hives survive now only with drugs administered by their keepers, who, in a profession where disaster is commonplace and profit elusive, are becoming nearly as exotic and endangered as their bees. Miller, smart, antisocial with humans, but tender toward bees and prone to writing ironic free-verse e-mails, keeps the narrative lively despite its often grim content. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-207942-8
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