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Thursday, September 15, 2011

BEA Book Review: The Beekeeper's Lament


by Hannah Nordaus
288 pages

About the Book

The subtitle of this book is "How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America" and that is really what the book is about. The author profiles one of the largest (and most interesting!) beekeepers in the US and shows how vitally important bees are to each and every one of us. She also presents the myriad problems facing beekeepers and their bees in today's world.

Why I Read It

This book was in the swag bag I received at the Harper Collins cocktail party at BEA earlier this year. The title and the cover intrigued me so I was excited to bring it home with me.

My Thoughts

I LOVED this book! Who knew bees (and their keepers) could be so fascinating?! And I honestly had NO CLUE about the massive numbers of bees being moved around the United States in order to pollinate all the farms that stock all the stores across the country.

I was marking pages left and right as I read this book. Here are some of the tidbits that fascinated me:

  • About 20 years ago a bee disease killed off almost all of the feral bees in the US - today there is approx 2% of the pre-1987 feral bee population, and those 2% are likely escapees from beekeepers' hives.
  • Due to various diseases in the current bee population, the Western honey bee would not survive without the intervention of beekeepers.
  • Most farms and orchards WILL NOT produce crops if they don't contract with beekeepers to pollinate their fields/trees. The country's mono-crop landscape cannot support wild pollinators, even if there were enough in the local area to do all the pollinating. And the addition of pesticides makes this an even larger problem.
  • Did you know that, by US Postal Code, the Postal Service is required to deliver live bees by mail? Fascinating!
If you have any interest in agriculture, insects, quirky people, strange businesses, or little-known topics, you should definitely give this book a try. It is well-written and fascinating non-fiction and I highly recommend it.

20 comments:

Amy said...

Loved the tidbits! So interesting!

Kayris said...

I'm absolutely going to check it out, it sounds fascinating. I've been reading about the problem with bees lately and it really concerns me. So much that if we ever move out of the city, I was considering starting a few hives (my H wants a large plot of land). I'll let you know if I like the book!

Heather J. said...

Amy - it was a great book!

Kayris - you are definitely more knowledgeable than I was before reading this book. I hope enjoy it!

Kathleen said...

Sounds like a fascinating read. I know that bees are our "friends" and have heard that they are decreasing in number. I will add this to my list to read.

Audra said...

I've seen a few articles about the massive bee deaths and found it interesting -- I wouldn't normally get a nonfiction book about it but you have me really curious about this one now! Loved the tidbits you shared -- this sounds like a fascinating but heartbreaking read!

Heather J. said...

Kathleen - Bees are definitely our friends but my husband is still deathly afraid of them. :)

Audra - This one is very well written and full of fascinating bits of info - I hope you get a chance to read it!

GMR said...

I'm not one for "bug" books or insects in any fashion, but I recognize that they serve a purpose (just don't tell them that if they get in the house or are trying to sting me, then they are fair game). Sounds like this book was a surprising read...I know I learned a thing or two simply from your review. Great job! ^_^

Heather J. said...

GMR - Oh yes, bugs in my house are TOTALLY fair game!

Kailana said...

Oh, this sounds really interesting!

Ryan said...

I actually used to want to have my own hive. Thanks for the heads up on this book. I'll defintely have to check it out.

Trish said...

Bees are such amazing little creatures, aren't they?

Heather J. said...

Kailana - It definitely was!

Ryan - You know, for some reason the fact that you wanted to have your own beehive doesn't exactly surprise me ... LOL

Trish - Why yes, yes they are. ;)

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Such a great book - informative and entertaining (John Miller is quite an interesting character).

A very discussable book group choice - even for those who don't typically read non-fiction.

Heather J. said...

Dawn - I agree - this would be a great one to discuss!

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

I remember studying of the Bee in my Biology class at the Senior Secondary School level. They are one fascinating insects. Their 'dancing' to indicate the source of food, their economic importance and more are things we need to know.

Heather J. said...

Nana - They really are fascinating little critters, aren't they?

Care said...

Heather! I want this book, too! I have got to stop reading your posts... (I adored Corson's Secret Lobster book and his endorsement caught my eye here.)

Heather J. said...

Care - Yeah, I've been posting about a few really good books lately ... hate to tell you but I've got a few more good ones coming up! LOL

Beth F said...

I loved this book for so many reasons. I'm really glad you gave it a chance.

Heather J. said...

Beth F - I was glad to see you feature and recommend this one recently!

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