Bees: Natures Little Wonders

Paperback | March 7, 2011

byCandace Savage

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With informed and passionate prose, Candace Savage invites readers to get up close and personal with the familiar yet wondrously odd honeybee, whose life span barely exceeds five weeks. She considers the diversity and biology of honeybees, including their peculiar sociosexual arrangements, their quirky relationships with flowers, and their startling mental abilities. Guiding this exploration are audacious and ingenious scientists, from the bees'' own Nobel Laureate Karl von Frisch, who studied the sensory perceptions of the honey bee and first described the "waggle dance," in the 1900s, to the Honeybee Genome Sequencing Consortium of the present. This must-read for conservationists, gardeners, beekeepers, and nature lovers also features:

  • a report on colony collapse disorder
  • opportunities for conservation of pollinators like the honeybee
  • cultural sidebars that include historical illustrations and works of art spotlighting bees in myth, poetry, and other writings.

Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.Also available in hardcover.

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With informed and passionate prose, Candace Savage invites readers to get up close and personal with the familiar yet wondrously odd honeybee, whose life span barely exceeds five weeks. She considers the diversity and biology of honeybees, including their peculiar sociosexual arrangements, their quirky relationships with flowers, and their startling mental abilities. Guiding this exploration are a...

Candace Savage is the author of numerous internationally acclaimed books on subjects ranging from natural history and science to popular culture. She is the author of the best-selling natural history titles Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies and Jays and Prairie: A Natural History, for which she won two Saskatchewan Book Awards and a Gold Medal from ForeWord Magazine in 2004. She is also a freque...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:136 pages, 8.5 × 6.5 × 0.25 inPublished:March 7, 2011Publisher:Greystone Books Ltd.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1553655311

ISBN - 13:9781553655312

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Read from the Book

From Chapter 1: Bees in the World The Flower's Little Friends Anyone who takes an interest in bees, whether as a student like Lindauer or as a free and inquiring mind, needs to start with a review of the basics-a kind of Stinging Insects 101-before getting up close and personal with them. What is a bee exactly? How many species are there? What is it about these insecs that, for so very long, has made them fascinating to humans? As Professor von Frisch once pointed out, "bees are as old as the hills." When the first Homo sapiens woke up and smelled the roses some thirty thousand years ago, bees had already been going about their business for well over 100 million years. ("This [antiquity] may be one of the reasons why they appear to be so mature," von Frisch noted, and "so perfect in many ways.") The oldest known fossilized bee is a tiny relic, about the size of a grain of rice, that was unearthed in Burma in 2006. Completely encased in amber, it dates from the early Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs like Brachiosaurus were still stomping through the swamps, and the gloomy coniferous forests were, for the first time, showing the colors of flowering plants. Bees evolved from wasps. To this day, some species of bees are so wasplike, and some wasps so like bees, that it is easy for a layperson to get confused. For those in the know, however, the two groups are distinct. Wasps-including the familiar paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets-are predators that kill other insects and spiders, by stinging, as food for their young; they also have a taste for carion and, as many picnickers can attest, for burgers and fried chicken. Bees, by contrast, are herbivores and use their stings only for defense. Instead of flesh, they raise their larvae on protein-rich pollen from plants. As far back as the Cretaceous, the tiny bees of Burma were already equipped with fringes of branched hairs, the bee tribe's signature adaptation for gathering pollen from flowers. Bees and blossoms are made for each other, like the lovers in a romantic song. Biologists refer to this attunement as co-evolution, the long, slow, adaptive interplay among species that could not survive alone. For if bees depend on flowers for food, many flowering plants rely on animal helpers to reproduce, employing them as animated dildos, or sexual go-betweens, to transfer pollen from the ripe anthers of one flower to the receptive stigma of the next. Although butterflies, beetles, and other insects also provide this service, bees-with their hairy bodies and floral fixation-are especially suited to turn the trick and are the most important pollinating force on the planet. You could think of them as the flower's little friends, a dawn-to-dusk call-out service with a high approval rating from its clientele.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Little Things Chapter 1: Bees of the World Chapter 2: Bees at Home Chapter 3: Bees of the Field Chapter 4: Life Lessons Acknowledgments Notes Selected Resources Picture Credits Index