by Hannah Nordhaus
The Hive Detectives, and then some. The Beekeeper's Lament gives a lot of detail into the world of beekeeping. Readily apparent that this is a very complex and fragile system. So very many of our crops depend upon the bees, who are in turn dependent upon humans now, to keep them alive. Apparently all the feral hives have disappeared (honeybees were never native to the US but introduced from Europe) and those under the care of beekeepers are constantly assailed by a myriad of diseases, pests and maladies. Lots of theories on what is causing the colonies to collapse, but no real answers yet. I am full of new admiration for the beekeepers who work like John Miller (the man most featured in this book) who drive their thousands of hives all around the country chasing the flowers. He, like many others who keep bees, make most of their money off renting the hives out to almond farmers. It was fascinating to learn about how the industry has grown and changed- for example oranges used to need pollination too, but now that consumers prefer seedless oranges, citrus farmers are trying to keep bees out of their orchards. There's a little bit about the history of bees and their keepers here, but it's mostly about the workings of the industry, the failure of the bees' health, and how it is becoming harder and harder for beekeepers to make a profit at all. I was most intrigued by reading about how it all worked, like the different methods the "bee guys" use to get their bees through the winter- feed them artificial stuff like syrup, put them into hibernation, or truck them to warmer climes.
Very intriguing, and alarming, stuff to read about. Sorry this post is so jumbled, I'm typing it out in a hurry while the baby sleeps. Read a few of the reviews linked to below, for something more comprehensive! Or better yet, just read the book. I borrowed my copy from the public library, when curiosity on the subject just made me search the catalog.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 269 pages, 2011
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