Reach & Read: Bees – Nature’s Little Wonders

Bees – Nature’s Little Wonders By Candace Savage


This well researched book about bees is a must read for anyone, beekeeper or not. Ms. Savage presents a very well researched book covering four big buckets: world, home, field and life lessons. Intertwined are lovely and varied illustrations, prose, wit, wisdom and of course, more reasons that I can shake a hive tool for people to champion or keep bees. It is also a “required” reading for you to achieve Intermediate Merit Badge for Bees. I will definitely bee reading more by Candace Savage, she has quite the library.

Bees of the World

“The life of bees is like a magic well. The more you draw from it, the more there is to draw” – Karl Von Frisch.

Hey! Remember him? He and others came up in my research about Nazi idealism prompted after reading the Zookeepers wife (review and ramblings here). This chapter goes into even more depth on his research but pulls in interesting twists from Aesop, reminds us of the many varied species of bees and shares Ralph Waldo Emerson’s The Humble Bee poem. Von Frisch appears throughout the whole book.

Where to do bees come from? “Out of the tears of the god Re” – Ancient Egyptian religious text

Bees at Home

Building on the research of von Frisch, enters Lindauer, who clocked countless hours staring at the bees (observing “real” bees). Mundane as this must have been at times, Lindauer contributed greatly to our understanding of how a hive maintains a working order. Before Lindauer and von Frisch, there was Shakespeare’s 1599 description of the roles in the hive, from king (queen) to drone:

…. They have a king and officers of sorts […] Others like soldiers armed in their stings, make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds; which pillage they with merry march bring home to the tent-royal of their emperor, who, busied in his majesty, surveys, the singing masons building roofs of fold, the civil citizens kneading up the honey, the poor mechanic porters crowding in […] the lazy yawning drone….[excerpt]

Bees of Field

“The fragrant work with diligence proceeds” Virgil, Aeneid, 29 BC

This chapter introduced me to the wild world of Emily Dickinson and her poems about bees and gardens. While poking around a bit learning about Emily’s “A Bee Experience“, I found a new blogger penned by someone in the same great state as I.

Life Lessons

“Go to the bee, then poet, consider her ways and be wise.” George Bernard Shaw.

This chapter is just that….life lessons. It goes into a little more depth about swarms as learned from Thomas Seeley’s research (swarm is always smarter than the sum of its parts) but ends on how you too, can nurture your “inner insect.”

Three basic characteristics of a swarm

  • “house hunting process is open to the widest possible input of knowledge and ideas”
  • “each individual […] makes her own independent assessment of situation”
  • “process is structured not as a search for compromise but as a friendly contest”

Or as the author proposes, “Three Habits of Highly Intelligent Groups”

While very little in this book talks about the disappearance of the bees, it ends with a rather ominous poem by Betty Lies (1998), titled End Notes for A Small History.

… Nobody wrote an elegy for to apricots……Of concentrated grape juice and orange juice, stores stocked with artificial flavoring….

Other ramblings


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