The impact of bees on our world is immeasurable. Bees are responsible for the evolution of the vast array of brightly coloured flowers and for engineering the niches of multitudes of plants, animals, and microbes. They've painted our landscapes with flowers through their pollination activities, and they have evolved the most complex societies to aid their exploitation of the environment.
The parallels between human and insect societies have been explored by countless sociobiologists. Traditional texts present stratified layers of knowledge where the reader excavates levels of biological organization, each building on the last. In The Art of the Bee, Robert E. Page, Jr., delves deep into the evolutionary history and the sociality of bees. He presents fundamental biology – not in layers, but wrapped around interesting themes and concepts, and in ways designed to explore and understand each concept. Page uses the social contract as a way to examine the complex social system of bee societies, a contract that has been written over millions of years of social evolution on the fabric of DNA. The Art of the Bee examines the coevolution of bees and flowering plants, bees as engineers of the environment, the evolution of sociality, the honey bee as a superorganism and how it evolves, and the mating behaviour of the queen. The resulting book explores the ways human societies and bee colonies are similar – not from a common ancestry with shared genes for sociality, but from shared fundamentals of political philosophy.
Chapter 1. Environmental Artists
Chapter 2. How Bees "Paint" Their Local Environment
Chapter 3. Environmental Engineering
Chapter 4. The Social Contract
Chapter 5. The Superorganism
Chapter 6. Reproductive Competition
Chapter 7. How to Make a Superorganism
Chapter 8. How a Superorganism Evolves
Chapter 9. The Song of the Queen
Robert E. Page, Jr., is Regents Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis. He has published more than 230 research papers and articles and authored two other books, The Spirit of the Hive (Harvard University Press, 2013) and Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding, with Harry H. Laidlaw (Wicwas Press, 1997). In 2009, he was a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg of Berlin. In 2009, he was a Fellow of Wissenschaftskolleg of Berlin. Page is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Science, Leopoldina (the German National Academyof Science), and the California Academy of Science. He is a recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award (Humboldt Prize, 1995), the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Fellowship (2018), James W. Creasman Award of Excellence at ASU (2018), and the Distinguished Emeritus Award at UCD (2019).
"Bees as artists or engineers? With deft use of metaphor, Page, one of our most eminent honey bee biologists, skillfully offers readers a down home, yet lyrical, romp through some of the most important topics in contemporary bee biology. But don't be fooled by the amiable and personal style – the book is comprehensive – from colony collapse disorder to colony-level evolution – and chock full of the latest results, presented with clarity and depth, leavened with razor-sharp insights into social evolution."
– Gene E. Robinson, Director,Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and Department of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"This wonderful book contains all the information expected from a textbook on honeybee biology, but beyond textbook style, Page presents this information in a series of sparkling essays built around particular views – e.g., honeybees as environmental painters and engineers – that read like mystery stories. With these lucidly written stories Page takes us on a delightful journey through the many biological traits that on the whole constitute the honeybees' social contract."
– Rüdiger Wehner, Professor and Director Emeritus of the Institute of Zoology, University of Zürich
"Drawing from his distinguished career studying honey bees, Robert Page reflects on the adaptations of social organisms that yield contracts through which their societies function through both harmony and discord. His journey into the hive, like Alexander von Humboldt's global explorations two centuries ago, stimulates and inspires us to ponder our own place in nature and within our human societies."
– Mark L. Winston, Professor and Senior Fellow, Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University