Established along with European settlers, honey bees are an essential part of today’s American landscape. Yet, how does the honey bee accomplish the many tasks that aid not only the survival of the colony but our own as well? Many of the answers involve the worker bee, the unique focus of Honey-Maker, and they are as astonishing as the exquisite structures that enable the worker to perform her many tasks. Our lives would be different were it not for this small golden wonder.
Beginning with an overview of the honey bee colony, which includes the queen, workers, and drones, the book then divides into sections that reflect the overall morphology of an insect: head, thorax, and abdomen. We learn how the worker, a bee so familiar to us:
- Makes beeswax and constructs honeycomb
- Tends the queen – and, at times, does her in
- Raises all of the colony’s young
- Brings in the groceries to support a vegetarian lifestyle
- Makes honey and bee bread
- Dances to share information
- Swarms when things get a bit too crowded
- Defends her colony against robbers
- And (sometimes) stings!
We also see the capacity of the honey bee worker to cooperate with others in her colony and to alter her activities and physiology to meet the colony’s ever-changing needs. Honey-Maker further speaks to our age-old relationship with the honey bee and suggests ways in which we all might contribute to good bee health.