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The Hive


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The story of the inspiring relationship between bees, their hive and the human world, brilliantly reviewed in hardback

About the Author

Bee Wilson is a food writer and historian. For five years she was the food critic of the New Statesman and now writes a weekly food column for the Sunday Telegraph. In 2002 she was named Radio 4 food writer of the year. She is currently a research fellow in the History of Ideas at St John's College, Cambridge. She is married, with two children.


Adult/High School-In this thorough study that is divided into such chapters as work, sex, and politics, Wilson traces the fascination with and misunderstanding of bees throughout history. Early cultures revered the insects for both their social structure and the sweet rewards of their labors. The geometric form of the hive is evidenced in the architectural designs of Gaud' and Le Corbusier. The wax provided light both literally and spiritually in the medieval Christian church. The hive has long been a symbol of social unity, and the happy worker bee is a model for labor. Honey is celebrated for its flavor, aroma, and medicinal qualities. It was even used as an embalming fluid by the ancient Babylonians and later by the Greeks. The "birds and the bees," "honey I'm home," and "honeyed words" are all referenced here. Black-and-white historical illustrations appear throughout, and a few recipes are included. Although this may be too much honey for some teen readers, it supplies solid information for popular-science enthusiasts.-Brigeen Radoicich, Fresno County Office of Education, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

'Can hardly be bettered.' -- Guardian 20040918 'Fascinating, careful, witty and intelligent ! Riveting ! Almost any paragraph chosen at random is entertaining' -- Prue Leith, New Statesman 20040918 'Richly informative and beautifully written' -- The Times 20040918 'Erudite and elegant ... Bee Wilson writes fluently and engagingly and she manages to present a great deal of curious information in a form as easy to swallow as a spoonful of the finest Attic honey ... The book is also exceptionally pleasing to look at and hold.' -- Tom Fort, Sunday Telegraph 20040829 'Entertaining and thoroughly worthwhile' -- Sunday Times 20040905 'Fascinating' -- Humphrey Carpenter, Sunday Times 20041128 'Erudite, informative, accurate and a delight to read.' -- The Times Literary Supplement 20050304 'Wilson has a fine eye for character sketches' -- The Times 20050917 'For a moment you may feel, as I did, that part of Wilson's research for this book involved turning into a bee for a few days ... Amazing.' -- Nick Lezard -- Guardian 20050917 'There are delights and surprises on virtually every page of this gem of a book' -- Sunday Telegraph 20050911 'Wilson's sprightly hymn to the honeybee ! conveys ! the marvel, complexity and ultimate unknowability that has made the beehive such a fascination -- Independent 20050911 'She manages to present a great deal of information in a form as easy to swallow as a spoonful of honey.' -- Tom Fort, Sunday Telegraph 20040829 'Buzzes with info and has the prettiest dust-jacket of the third millennium' -- Barry Humphries, Sunday Telegraph 20041128 'Endlessly fascinating' -- Mail on Sunday 20041128 'A riveting read ...this beguiling book is more a history of ideas than an actual study ...buzzing with fascinating facts' -- BBC Gardener's World Magazine 20041128 'Bee Wilson recounts all the weird and wonderful things people have believed about bees' -- History Today 20041128 'Juicy reading ...worth buying for the illustration on p. 204 alone' -- The Spectator 20041128 'Bee Wilson ...connects readers' imaginations with their salivary glands' -- New Statesman 20041128 'A brilliant examination of a natural phenomenon we all take for granted' -- Sunday Express 20041128 'Delightful' -- Economist 20041128 'Fascinating and readable. Wilson writes with flair and wit about everything from Pliny to pollination; her love of honey in all its sheer sensuousness shines through' -- Scotsman 20041128 'Can hardly be bettered ...Principally a writer on food, Wilson none the less knows a lot about keeping honeybees, and also about their biology and natural history, waxworks and candles, and the changing shape of the beehive' -- The Guardian 20041128 'Beautifully written and absorbing' -- New Statesman 20041128

Food writer and Sunday Telegraph columnist Bee Wilson, who says she acquired her name long before her fascination with the insect Apis mellifera, takes an entertaining look at the extraordinary notions humans have had through the ages about honeybees. She shows how people, lacking until recently any scientific knowledge of how bees live, communicate and produce honey, have projected onto the bee human values and morals. The organization of the hive, for example, is seen as a model of the perfect society; worker bees symbolize selfless industry and the joy of productivity. The bee has been a symbol of virtue, chastity, Christianity, the human soul, good and bad politics, and sex-even though, with the exception of the queen and a few drones, most bees have no sex life at all. After discussing these and other strange ideas, tempering the myths with the facts of modern science, Wilson delves into the evolution of bee-keeping and the history of honey's uses in medicines, beauty products and food, and she even includes a few recipes. There's too much information in too few pages, but Wilson treats her subject lucidly and humorously, and her book is fascinating. 60 b&w photos. (June 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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