The Dancing Bees: Karl Von Frisch And The Discovery Of The Honeybee Language by Tania MunzThe Dancing Bees: Karl Von Frisch And The Discovery Of The Honeybee Language by Tania Munz

The Dancing Bees: Karl Von Frisch And The Discovery Of The Honeybee Language

byTania Munz

Paperback | October 23, 2017

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We think of bees as being among the busiest workers in the garden, admiring them for their productivity. But amid their buzzing, they are also great communicators—and unusual dancers. As Karl von Frisch (1886–1982) discovered during World War II, bees communicate the location of food sources to each other through complex circle and waggle dances. For centuries, beekeepers had observed these curious movements in hives, and others had speculated about the possibility of a bee language used to manage the work of the hive. But it took von Frisch to determine that the bees’ dances communicated precise information about the distance and direction of food sources. As Tania Munz shows in this exploration of von Frisch’s life and research, this important discovery came amid the tense circumstances of the Third Reich.

The Dancing Bees draws on previously unexplored archival sources in order to reveal von Frisch’s full story, including how the Nazi government in 1940 determined that he was one-quarter Jewish, revoked his teaching privileges, and sought to prevent him from working altogether until circumstances intervened. In the 1940s, bee populations throughout Europe were facing the devastating effects of a plague (just as they are today), and because the bees were essential to the pollination of crops, von Frisch’s research was deemed critical to maintaining the food supply of a nation at war. The bees, as von Frisch put it years later, saved his life. Munz not only explores von Frisch’s complicated career in the Third Reich, she looks closely at the legacy of his work and the later debates about the significance of the bee language and the science of animal communication.

This first in-depth biography of von Frisch paints a complex and nuanced portrait of a scientist at work under Nazi rule. The Dancing Bees will be welcomed by anyone seeking to better understand not only this chapter of the history of science but also the peculiar waggles of our garden visitors.
Tania Munz is the vice president for research and scholarship at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City. Previously, she was a lecturer at Northwestern University and a research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She holds a PhD in the history of science from Princeton University.
Title:The Dancing Bees: Karl Von Frisch And The Discovery Of The Honeybee LanguageFormat:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:October 23, 2017Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022652650X

ISBN - 13:9780226526508

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Sensational Findings
Bee Vignette I: Victorian Bees
Chapter 1: Coming of Age in Vienna
Chapter 2: The Bees That Could
Bee Vignette II: Sensing the Senses
Chapter 3: Calm before the Storm
Chapter 4: In the Service of the Reich
Bee Vignette III: Deep inside the Hive
Chapter 5: State of Grace
Chapter 6: Picking Up the Pieces in Postwar Germany
Chapter 7: Coming to America
Bee Vignette IV: Seeing Bees
Chapter 8: Attack on the Dance Language
Conclusion: 180/60

Editorial Reviews

“This book is not so much a treatise on the science of bee communication as a story of the events that led to the unraveling of a precise bee communication strategy, called the ‘waggle dance.’ . . . Recommended.”