163 pages, 100 colour photos
There are around 16 000 species of bee. Only seven of these are responsible for creating the world's sweetest treat – honey. Combining Ilona's gorgeous photography and E. Readicker-Henderson's engaging text, A Short History of the Honey Bee follows the journey from flower to hive to honey throughout history. A Short History of the Honey Bee starts with the story of the honey bee – why it is named Apis mellifera, how it has evolved from a solitary creature to one that travels in groups, why it stings, and how pollination really works.
Readicker-Henderson then moves on to the honey, detailing its history from a wild food foraged for on cliffs to the many varieties available for purchase today. But it is the everyday importance of the bee that remains the central message. Forty percent of the world's food supply – including apples, tomatoes, and strawberries – is dependent on pollination by honeybees. Colony collapse, when the worker bees suddenly disappear and leave behind the queen and the hive, is an ecological and agricultural crisis. For this reason alone we need to be more aware of the significance of bees.
"When this honey connoisseur speaks of the sweet substance as 'the truest distillation of the landscape,' it's easy to be seduced by the idea. You'll want to participate in a honey tasting after finishing this book."
– Della Watson, Sierra Club's Green Life blog 2009-03-18
"Whether describing the life of an individual bee from her start as an egg to her death from hard work roughly six weeks later, or how honey is made from flower nectar by the alchemy of the bees, the author's passion for the subject shines through."
– Nancy Bent, Booklist 2009-05-15
"This book by the poetic E. Readicker-Henderson and the talented photographer Ilona far exceeded my wildest expectations. I am, in short, in love with this book! [...] Readers, I implore you. Buy this book. Then buy it for others. And teach your children every word. Every one."
– Kathryn Hall Plant, Whatever Brings You Joy 2009-05-31
"Filled with just the right mixture of learning, personal narrative and historical facts, this piece is enhanced by strikingly beautiful photographs by Ilona, set among the pages like brilliant gems. The prose is comprehensible and inspiring."
– Meredith Greene, Sacramento Book Review 2009-08-01
"Readicker-Henderson [...] makes no apology for his very personal delight in the succulent ambrosia of honey and his enthusiasm for local products rather than the bland, sweet, blended gloop sold in plastic bottles."
– Richard Jones, Gardens Illustrated 2009-08-01
"Honey is a main subject of this delightful book. [...] Certainly our diet cannot be the same without honey bees."
– Pat Leuchtman, Greenfield Recorder 2009-10-17
"A short and accessible narrative, written through the author's personal experience growing up with honey and becoming a beekeeper. His delight and dedication to bees comes through, and Ilona's images are gorgeous"
– Elizabeth Licata, Buffalo Spree Magazine 2009-12-01
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E. Readicker-Henderson is a beekeeper turned regular writer and contributor to National Geographic Traveler, Sierra, and others, and has won numerous awards for his writing. He lives in Bellingham, WA.