Jun 27, 2011

The Hive Detectives

Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe 
by Loree Griffin Burns

I've been reading quite a bit about bees lately.This book has been on my list since I saw it on A Patchwork of Books, so I looked for it at the library.

The Hive Detectives is about honeybees, their importance to our food industry, and concerns about their rapid decline. It is illustrated with beautiful photographs, which I spent a long time poring over. After reading so much on bees and beekeeping in past novels and books, it was nice to finally see photos of what a honey extractor looks like, for example. The book tells a bit about the work of beekeeping focusing on a hobbyist or backyard beekeeping Mary Duane. It also shows how a large-scale beekeeping operation works, with several chapters about Hackenburg Apiaries who keep three thousand beehives. I always knew that crops need bees but assumed that the farmers simply kept some bees on site to help pollinate. What I didn't know was that large-scale bee operations will truck their beehives around the country and rent them out to farmers during the weeks that they urgently need pollination for their crops. At the end of the various growing seasons, the beehives are brought home and honey collected.

The crux of this book though, is about an alarming phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder which was first noted by the men at Hackenburg. They found hundreds of hives suddenly nearly empty of bees, in spite of having plenty of food stores and offspring. They promptly started an investigation to find out what was happening. All across the country bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Scientists have looked into diseases, pesticides and other factors trying to figure out what the cause is and stop the decline. There is a lot more information about CCD on the Wikipedia site; so far research is still trying to figure out what causes it.

Mostly I loved reading this book because of how much it taught me about bees and beekeeping. I was actually disappointed when it ended. The Hive Detectives is a juvenile non-fiction book but well-written and not overly simplified; I found it quite intriguing and educational.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 66 pages, 2010

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