cover image Bee People and the Bugs They Love

Bee People and the Bugs They Love

Frank Mortimer. Citadel, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8065-4083-2

Beekeeper Mortimer shares insights gleaned from years of pursuing his avocation in this illuminating debut memoir. He begins with his first hive, procured through a man known as “the Badger” at the local beekeeping club, and takes readers through his own trial by fire, in the hopes that aspiring beekeepers can avoid making the same mistakes. Mortimer lists the basic equipment needed to start, outlines the functions of a hive’s different members (drones, workers, and the queen), and describes maintenance practices, such as using smoke to keep the hive calm. Some of the most charming passages involve Mortimer’s friendships with other beekeepers, who are often as eccentric as they are kind and helpful. In addition to Badger, for instance, there’s Rusty Spoonauer, aka “the one-eyed bee guy,” a septuagenarian who advises the beekeeping club to “save your honey, ’cause when the governments fall and we’re all living in anarchy,” they can use their produce for barter (and use the remainder for mead, as “people always gonna need a stiff drink.”). New or prospective beekeepers will find a useful how-to guide as well as an affectionate ode to nature’s pollinators and honey makers, while any readers who have had their lives reshaped by a single overriding passion will enjoy learning how Mortimer found his. Agent: Barbara Collins Rosenberg, Rosenberg Group. (Apr.)