Devastating honeybee losses have resulted in rallying calls to ‘save our bees’. Media interest and a multitude of campaigns have raised public awareness and yet also reinforced popular myths. Concern for bees is high, but what might it mean to consider the conservation of a farmed creature?
Informative and thought-provoking, Farming for the Landless travels from the intensive agriculture of Romania to fallow post-war Kosovo, from remote sites in Slovenia and Sweden to the urban sprawl of Paris and London, exploring changes across the European landscape to better understand this critical moment for honeybees, beekeepers and the non-farming landless community we have largely become.
About the author:
Sarah Waring lives and works in the UK and Italy. She studied Fine Art Photography at the Royal College of Art, lectured at the University of Westminster and University of the Arts and worked as a writer and media publishing editor in London. She has travelled extensively throughout rural Europe where her interests in ecology and agriculture have been brought to life especially via hands-on experience in Austria, Italy, Sweden and Wales.
“Honeybee Democracy is a wonderful book, beautifully written and illustrated, about humanity’s greatest friend among the insects. The honeybee is important not only for its role in agriculture but for what it has taught us concerning the fundamental nature of complex social organization. Seeley, its leading authority, here presents it to a broad readership, with scientific exactitude written in lyrical prose.” Edward 0. Wilson, coauthor of The Superorganism
With spectacularly beautiful colour photographs and an easy understandable text The Buzz about Bees tells the story of honey-bees in a new perspective. Based on the latest data, notably from his won research group, Jurgen Tautz provides a wonderful insight into the realms of bees.
In contrast to the view of the bee colonies as perfect societies of selfless individuals ruled by the queen, Tautz introduces them as a “super-organism”, a self organising and complex adaptive system based on a network of communication; a fascinating result of evolution – a mammal in several bodies.
The entire range of astonishing bee activities is described. Remarkable action photographs never shown before present bees busy with cell cleaning, caring for the brood, serving in the queen’s court, visiting flowers, receiving nectar, producing honey, comb building, entrance guarding, heating and cooling. Spotlights include bees grooming, swarming, fighting, telephoning, sleeping and communicating by high-toned beeping, scents and dances.
This book is about how a colony of honey bees works as a unified whole. Attention will be concentrated on the mechanisms of group integration underlying a colony’s food-collection process, an aspect of colony functioning which has proven particularly open to experimental analysis. Everyone knows that individual bees glean nectar from flowers and transform it into delicious honey, but it is not so widely known that a colony of bees possesses a complex, highly ordered social organisation for the gathering of its food. This rich organisation reflects the special fact that in the case of honey bees natural selection acts mainly at the level of the entire colony, rather than the single bee. A colony of honey bees therefore represents a group-level unit of biological organisation. By exploring the inner workings of a colony’s foraging process, we can begin to appreciate the elegant devices that nature has evolved for integrating thousands of insects into a higher-order entity, one whose abilities far transcend those of the individual bee.
This is without doubt the best general description of the dynamics of the honey bee’s social organisation. He recreates for the reader the complex infrastructure of the nest, describing the highly specialised behaviour of workers, queens, and drones, and examines the remarkable ability of the honey bee colony to regulate its functions according to events both within and outside the nest. John B Free in his review of the volume in Science said – Masterly …. Without hesitation I recommend this book to a wide range of potential readers.”Mark L. Winston probes the dynamics of the honey bee’s social organisation. He recreates for us the complex infrastructure of the nest, describes the highly specialised behaviour of workers, queens, and drones, and examines the remarkable ability of the honey bee colony to regulate its functions according to events within and outside the nest. Mark Winston offers a comprehensive account, covering aspects of anatomy and physiology as well as systematics, ecology and behaviour …A useful overview of the biology of an insect that holds considerable interest for both economic and academic reasons. Rich in descriptive detail and well referenced, it will also serve as a basis for more detailed exploration of particular aspects of honey bee biology. – Sarah Corbet, Times Higher Education Supplement Winston’s writing is brisk and enthusiastic and the book’s illustrations clear and informative. This is a delightful study of an odd, yet oddly familiar, creature”. – John R. Alden, Wall Street Journal.
The honeybee is a wonderful example of adaptation. In this it resembles all forms of life, but because it is an extremist its adaptations are striking. The honeybee’s waggle dance, with which forager bees share information about the locations of new patches of flowers, is unsurpassed among animal communication systems in its capacity for coding precise yet flexible messages. Honeybee workers display an extraordinarily elaborate division of labor by age, switching their labor roles at least four times as they grow older. When a honeybee colony needs a new home, several hundred scout bees comb some 100 square kilometres of forest, discover a few dozen possible nest cavities, and harmoniously choose the best dwelling place through a sort of plebiscite. In winter, the thousands of honeybees in a colony form a tight, well-insulated cluster and pool their metabolic heat fuelled by about 20 kilograms of honey stores-to keep warm despite subfreezing temperatures, a method of winter survival which is unique among insects. The honeybee, then, has an extremely elaborate social life. It is therefore an unusually rewarding subject for eco-logical studies of social behaviour.