Bees: Nature's Little Wonders by Candace SavageBees: Nature's Little Wonders by Candace Savage

Bees: Nature's Little Wonders

byCandace Savage

Paperback | March 7, 2011

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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.

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 Saskatchewa...
Title:Bees: Nature's Little WondersFormat: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 WorldThe Flower's Little FriendsAnyone 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 ThingsChapter 1: Bees of the WorldChapter 2: Bees at HomeChapter 3: Bees of the FieldChapter 4: Life LessonsAcknowledgmentsNotesSelected ResourcesPicture CreditsIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Bees: Nature’s Little Wonders will be a favorite reference book for years to come. The mix of science, folk-lore, quotes and images is splendid.""Bee Scene[Savage] proceeds to intertwine a thoughtful study of bee biology with poems, fables, and ancient religious texts, weaving a unique history of the honey-makers that have enchanted humans for centuries.”Sierra ClubThis is a honey of a little book in more ways than one. It is all about bees, insects many of us were fascinated by as children, as we watched them move from flower to flower, collecting honey. …This is a wonderful book that makes you appreciate the bee world all the more. Great for children or adults, this book should BEE on your shopping list!”Shelf LifeBehold the honeybee, striped provider of sweetness and light to humans for thousands of years. These bugs certainly make Cheerios taste better, but could it be that we as a species have something to learn from their behaviour? In Bees: Nature’s Little Wonders …Candace Savage maintains that we do. ‘Unlike human groups, which often seem less intelligent than the individuals who make them up, a swarm of bees is always smarter than the sum of its parts.’”National PostA readable and well illustrated account of the natural and human history of bees. This book invites its readers to take a new look at insects that are both familiar and wondrously odd. …Filled with stunning images, this is a must-read for conservationists, gardeners, and everyone else who cares about the world around them.”Science Blogs.comBees may be the sort of book you will find in the bathroom at a cozy bed-and-breakfast establishment, but it is nonetheless a useful and delightful little book, lushly illustrated and complemented by sidebars containing poems, bits of folklore and so on.”Globe and Mail…given that Savage splices the sparse text with photographs, delightful old woodcuts, bee lore and bee poetry, the book’s overall effect is more whimsical than erudite or alarmist. …This short and, um, sweet book might be most suitable as a stocking stuffer for a gardener of bee lover, a fine starting point for further story of these wonderful and essential creatures.”Quill & QuireBees: Nature’s Little Wonders, is a timely celebration of these queenly insects and their importance to our ecosystem. Savage flits and buzzes around her fascinating subject matter with typical curiosity and flair. …Bees is abundant with stunning photos and quaint heritage graphics, while bee-themed verse by poets like Lorna Crozier and Emily Dickenson add a nice literary touch.”Toronto Star[Candace Savage] looked down at her arm one day, at about three years old, and saw one of the glittering creatures crawling along her skin. Even at first glance, she was mesmerized by its tiny beauty. …Key in her journey to bee enthusiast was the writing of her appropriately short and sweet tome, Bees: Nature’s Little Wonders… the latest in her long career of acclaimed books on natural history, science and popular culture.”North Shore News…a most handsome introduction to the amazing little creatures.”Globe and Mail