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The Lives of Bees

The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild
Narrated by: William Hope
Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Biology
5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Summary

How the lives of wild honey bees offer vital lessons for saving the world’s managed bee colonies

Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, yet only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. The Lives of Bees is Thomas Seeley’s captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behavior, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside the beekeeper’s hive - and how wild honey bees may hold the key to reversing the alarming die-off of the planet’s managed honey bee populations. 

Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, sheds light on why wild honey bees are still thriving while those living in managed colonies are in crisis. Drawing on the latest science, as well as insights from his own pioneering fieldwork, he describes in extraordinary detail how honey bees live in nature and reveals how this differs significantly from their lives under the management of beekeepers. Seeley presents an entirely new approach to beekeeping - Darwinian Beekeeping - which enables honey bees to use the toolkit of survival skills their species has acquired over the past 30 million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He tells beekeepers how to use the principles of natural selection to guide their practices, and he offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees. 

Engaging and deeply personal, The Lives of Bees reveals how we can become better custodians of honey bees and make use of their resources in ways that enrich their lives, as well as our own.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Thomas D. Seeley (P)2019 Princeton University Press

Critic reviews

"A wealth of information about honeybees based on decades of scientific research." (Kirkus)

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Beautiful text and important message.

This book is a must read for any beekeeper.
Forget all the “how to keep bees books” and adapt to the simple methods that Thomas D Seeley describes in this beautiful text.

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  • JonathanG
  • 05-06-19

The Lives of Bees - Read the Book Instead

Bees are fascinating, and clearly, have a significant role to play, pollinating plants and producing honey. This book is a labor of love for the author, who has taken considerable effort to record the behavior of colonies of bees. He describes, in great detail, a range of information he has gathered about bees gained over several years of effort. This work is admirable, and through it, we learn a lot of insight into bees and their behavior. The book has a lot of statistical information, which unfortunately does not come across well in audible format. Reading our tables of data makes for pretty dull listening. The narrator could perhaps have done more to sound more enthusiastic, but I guess he did his best to convey dry statistics. I am listening at 2X speed now to get through it, and am thinking of returning it. If you are interested in bees and their lives, this book offers a fascinating insight and account of their lives and is worth reading. I recommend buying the printed version over the audible version though.

6 people found this helpful

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  • ltlrags
  • 02-06-19

More for the apiarist than the lay person

I was hoping for an interesting story of the honeybee in the wild, but this book is more for apiarists than the lay person. It lays out experiments and results in what I felt was excruciating detail, but the results don't help me understand the main character: the wild honeybee. Sure, I know higher hives are preferred (and smaller openings, and a very specific range of cavity size), but all those experiments are interesting to the apiarist only. It's a lot of knowledge that doesn't mean much to me. I know more details, but nothing meaningful.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Elan Sun Star
  • 14-07-19

Brilliant insights and data

I deeply appreciate this book it is rich and detailed and historically relevant. it is also a social mandate that we all take responsibility to maintain and save our pollinators expecially epic mellifera. bravo sir! ...Thank you for this excellent research..It caused me to search a lot for images of world beekeepers who support forest beekeeping.

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  • Christopher White
  • 14-02-20

Great book for Beekeepers.

Loved thus book. great perspective on Beekeeping and how the Bees live, reproduce and survive in the wild.

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  • MM
  • 05-01-20

The Life of a Bee Biologist

This book is a summary of the author’s research, NOT a lesson in the lives of bees. If you want to learn about basic bee biology, their social structure and behavior, or how or why bees produce honey, this is NOT the book for you. If you want to learn about the exact temperature of a bee’s thorax in flight, or about the statistical likelihood of cardinal orientation affecting nest box selection, then this is the book for you.

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  • Fact addict
  • 29-11-19

Absolutely enthralling!! (small bites, though!)

It took me over three months to wade through this volume of a tremendous amount of information. I listened to it in bits and pieces, taking time every now and then to just sift through the compendium of information it contains.
The author includes masses of information about experiments he has done with various hives, to learn what makes them weaker, stronger, long-lived or short of life, and many other variables. One of the things I liked was the inclusion of the scientific names of each plant, animal, or insect that figured in the various stories. He also fluidly converted metric to imperial measures as a matter of course, which made things more understandable.
With the publicity now being given to the plight of the honeybee, and therefore the plight of humanity, this will be an added value to the knowledge base of any active, concerned member of the human race.
Highly recommend, just take it s-l-o-w-l-y and digest the information in small bites.

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  • Eugene
  • 22-09-19

Really enjoyed it

Started out a bit anecdotally but by the end I find it really well pace, entertaining and informative

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-09-19

Great informative book

If you have bees this book is for you. I did drift off a few times with such a lot of technical terms. But have a greater understanding of how we can look after our hives and bees. Thank you

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  • Chamberlain
  • 15-08-19

Great book! Best I’ve listened too!

This book does an excellent job of explaining the problems bee keepers now face and for now the best way to manage them to eliminate colony collapse disorder.

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  • T. Slemmer
  • 06-08-19

A must read for every bee keeper.

A must Read for every backyard beekeeper. If you care about bees, you’ll be fascinated with the research on wild bee colonies and how it relates to moderate beekeeping. Definitely worth your time and money!