BEES IN AMERICA: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation

Tammy Horn, Author . Univ. of Kentucky $27.50 (333p) ISBN 978-0-8131-2350-9

The honeybee isn't native to the U.S., but it's hard to imagine the country without it. Like cattle, another imported species, the honeybee helped transform what European settlers saw as a vast wilderness into a land of milk and honey. First-time author Horn, who learned beekeeping from her grandfather, provides a wealth of worthy material about bees in America, from the use of the hive metaphor to justify colonization in the 1500s and 1600s, to bees' role in pollinating the prairies and orchards that we now take for granted. She discusses the attitudes of native peoples toward the insects; the beekeeping practices of African Americans, women and new immigrants; advances in beekeeping technology; the role of honey and beeswax in the U.S. economy; and the use of bee imagery in the arts. While Horn's affection for her subject is always evident, her efforts to tie beekeeping to every aspect of American life are sometimes strained—as when she writes that "because major social rifts [in the 1950s] were threatening to tear apart the 'good life,' this country's arts environment used the honey bee to negotiate difficult power struggles between races, between spouses, between political parties, between generations, [and] between legal rulings." Horn's thesis is better served without such overreaching and unconvincing claims. B&w illus. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-8131-3772-8
Paperback - 333 pages - 978-0-8131-9163-8
Open Ebook - 348 pages - 978-0-8131-7206-4
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