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The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed Americaby Hannah Nordhaus
Consider the bee, which produces 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey over a lifetime of hundreds of trips to flowers. This intrepid insect is not just industrious, it's a touchstone for ecology today. Subject to threats ranging from monoculture to pesticides to climate change, bees and the dedicated people who shepherd them persevere. Hannah Nordhaus has written an insightful and entertaining account of the tenuous relationship between bees, beekeepers, and modernity.
Synopses & Reviews
The honey bee is a willing conscript, a working wonder, an unseen and crucial link in America's agricultural industry. But never before has its survival been so unclear — and the future of our food supply so acutely challenged.
Enter beekeeper John Miller, who trucks his hives around the country, bringing millions of bees to farmers otherwise bereft of natural pollinators. Even as the mysterious and deadly epidemic known as Colony Collapse Disorder devastates bee populations across the globe, Miller forges ahead with the determination and wry humor of a true homespun hero.
The Beekeeper's Lament tells his story and that of his bees, making for a complex, moving, and unforgettable portrait of man in the new natural world.
"In this revelatory, bittersweet investigation into the state of commercial beekeeping in the 21st century, Nordhaus follows the migratory life of a commercial beekeeper, John Miller, as he trucks his bees between California and North Dakota, pollinating almond orchards, defending his territory of 'bee yards' (flowering pastures), collecting honey, and, against all odds, keeping his bees and his business alive. It turns out that colony collapse disorder, which recently brought awareness of bees and their essential agricultural function to an oblivious public, is only the most recent of numerous threats to bee health, from 19th-century plagues of wax moth comb invasion to more recent infestations of tracheal and varroa mites that 'killed nearly every single one of the continent's feral colonies, obliterating the wild bees that once did much of the work pollinating the nations crops and flowers.' According to Nordhaus, hives survive now only with drugs administered by their keepers, who, in a profession where disaster is commonplace and profit elusive, are becoming nearly as exotic and endangered as their bees. Miller, smart, antisocial with humans, but tender toward bees and prone to writing ironic free-verse e-mails, keeps the narrative lively despite its often grim content. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“I loved The Beekeeper’s Lament. With great reporting and great writing, Hannah Nordhaus gives a new angle on an ever-evolving topic. You’ll learn a lot.” Bernd Heinrich, author of Winter World and Mind of the Raven
“Hannah Nordhaus has written an engaging account of the men and insects who put food on our tables. The Beekeeper’s Lament is a sweet, sad story.” Trevor Corson
"Rollicking, buzzing, and touching ...You'll never think of bees, their keepers, or the fruits (and nuts) of their labors the same way again." Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of The Bad Guys Won!
“A crackerjack story…the author struck gold….Nordhaus is a lively writer who…ably conveys the economics of the trade…and is just as able to describe the romance and miracle of honey….A smooth-as-honey tour d’horizon of the raggedy world of beekeeping.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Youllnever think of bees, their keepers, or the fruits (and nuts) of their laborsthe same way again.” —Trevor Corson, author of The Secret Life of Lobsters
Award-winning journalist Hannah Nordhaus tells the remarkable story of John Miller, one of Americas foremost migratory beekeepers, and the myriad and mysterious epidemics threatening American honeybee populations. In luminous, razor-sharp prose, Nordhaus explores the vital role that honeybees play in American agribusiness, the maintenance of our food chain, and the very future of the nation. With an intimate focus and incisive reporting, in a book perfect for fans of Eric Schlossers Fast Food Nation, Michael Pollans The Botany of Desire,and John McPhees Oranges, Nordhauss stunning exposé illuminates one the most critical issues facing the world today,offering insight, information, and, ultimately, hope.
About the Author
Award-winning journalist Hannah Nordhaus has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, the Village Voice, Outside magazine, and other publications. She lives with her family in Boulder, Colorado.
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