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Bees pollinate more than 130 fruit, vegetable, and seed crops that we rely on to survive. Bees are crucial to the reproduction and diversity of flowering plants, and the economic contributions of these irreplaceable insects measure in the tens of billions of dollars each year. Yet bees are dying at an alarming rate, threatening food supplies and ecosystems around the world. In this richly illustrated natural history of the bee, Noah Wilson-Rich and his team of bee experts provide a window into the vitally important role that bees play in the life of our planet. Earth is home to more than 20,000 bee species, from fluorescent-colored orchid bees and sweat bees to flower-nesting squash bees and leaf-cutter bees. The Bee: A Natural History takes an incomparable look at this astounding diversity, blending an engaging narrative with practical, hands-on discussions of such topics as beekeeping and bee health. It explores our relationship with the bee over evolutionary time, delving into how it came to be, where it stands today, and what the future holds for humanity and bees alike.
Introducing the Bee 6-11
CHAPTER 1 Evolution & Development
The Evolution of Bees 14-15
Honey Hunting & Beekeeping 16-17
The Different Bee Groups 18-19
The Evolution & Development of the Honey Bee 20-21
Wild Bees Worldwide 22-23
CHAPTER 2 Anatomy & Biology
What Makes Bees Different? 26-27
Anatomy of a Honey Bee 28-29
Flight & Internal Anatomy 30-31
Bee Senses 32-33
Genomics & Informatics 36-37
Hormones-the Endocrine System 38-39
Pests & Diseases 42-43
The Bee’s Life Cycle 46-47
CHAPTER 3 Society & Behavior
Pathways to Eusociality 54-55
Reproductive Division of Labor 56-57
Dance Communication 62-63
Foraging Behavior 68-69
Circadian Rhythms 74-75
Changing Behavior Over Time: Temporal Polyethism 78-79
Defense & aggression 80-81
Sexual Reproduction 86-87
Mating Systems 88-89
CHAPTER 4 Bees & Humans
Ancient & Modern Knowledge 92-93
Scientific Research Today 94-95
An Economic Force 96-97
Islam, Judaism & Christianity 100-101
Patron Saints of Beekeeping 102-103
Political Symbolism 104-105
What if Bees Were to Disappear? 106-107
CHAPTER 5 Beekeeping
The Basics 110-111
Keeping Other Bees 112-113
Ancient Hive Designs 114-115
Langstroth Hives 116-117
Observation Hives 118-119
Data Tracking 120-121
Urban Beekeeping 122-123
"Natural" Beekeeping 126-127
Integrated Management 130-131
Arthropod Pests 132-133
Bacterial, Fungal & Viral Infections 134-137
CHAPTER 6 A Directory of Bees
Solitary Bees 140-163
Bumble Bees 164-172
Stingless Bees 173-179
Honey Bees 180-185
CHAPTER 7 The Challenges Faced by Bees
An Introduction to Bee Losses 188-189
Weather & Climate 190-191
Habitat Loss 192-193
Changes in Agriculture 194-195
Modern Farming 196-198
Pests & Diseases 202-203
Other Threats to Bees 204-205
Fear of Bees 206-207
Pollinators, the Environment & Conservation 208-209
Research Initiatives to Help Bees 210-211
How We Can Help the Bees 212-213
Author Biographies 223
Noah Wilson-Rich is founder and chief scientific officer of The Best Bees Company, a Boston-based beekeeping service and research organization. Kelly Allin was lab manager at the Best Bees Company's Urban Beekeeping Laboratory and Bee Sanctuary during the writing of this book. Norman Carreck is scientific director of the International Bee Research Association. Andrea Quigley is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to beekeeping journals.
"The natural history of solitary, bumble, honey and stingless bees is as gripping as our lengthy alliance, as urban beekeeper Noah Wilson-Rich and contributors show in this charming compilation. They cover evolution, biology (including a unique proboscis made of two organs), behaviours (such as honey bee 'quacking'), the causes of catastrophic die-offs, and more."
– Barbara Kiser, Nature
"You don't have to be a scientist or even a beekeeper to understand the material or to grasp the importance of bees to our way of life. The author's passion for his subject is obvious without being weighty, the diagrams are on point, and the photographs are a joy [...] The Bee: A Natural History illustrates the entire story in a quick but fascinating portrait. Be sure to put this one on your wish list."
– Rusty Burlew, Honey Bee Suite
"A well-illustrated introduction to the biology of bees."
– Ian Paulsen, Birdbooker Report
"A comprehensive guide to the bee and covers every topic imaginable, including bee evolution, behaviour, beekeeping, anatomy and reproduction. Each section in the book is filled with stunning, detailed photography that compliments the informative accompanying text [...] You could spend hours simply perusing the pictures in this book and finding something new every time. The Bee: A Natural History is a perfect coffee-table book, but offers so much more than pretty pictures. The author is clearly an expert in his field and the chapters go into quite a lot of depth, without alienating the reader. It strikes an appropriate balance between appearance and content."
"This book is a valuable addition the bookshelves of anyone with an interest and love of the bee."
– Sue Closs, Welsh Beekeeper
"By contrasting the biologies and behaviours of some of the solitary bees, stingless bees, masons, carpenters and bumbles, the author presents an interesting and readable handbook on this insect icon and its wild relatives."
– Richard Jones, BBC Wildlife
"While most people are familiar with the European honeybees that populate commercial hives, the rest of world of bees is probably less known. The Bee: A Natural History by Noah Wilson-Rich sets out to fill you in on the rest of the story [...] If you'd like to get to know your neighborhood bees better, this book is a good place to start."
– Tom Palmer, Lakeland Ledger
"A compendium of knowledge on the 20,000 or so bee species in the world and the state of humans' relationship with them throughout history. It's fertile soil for any bee inquiry you want to make."
– Susan Clotfelter, Denver Post
"Because humans have observed and cultivated social bees for millennia [...] we know enough about those little creatures to fill many books. Open to any page of this one and you will get a short, sweet primer on some aspect of bee biology, behavior, husbandry, or ecology [...] For the reader whose appetite for bee-stuff has been whetted, there's a good bibliography that you can pursue to fill in the fine points. If there are no books on bees in your house, this is the first one you should buy. And if bees could read, I'm sure there would be a copy of this book in every hive."
– Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History
"The Bee is a quick and easy-to-read overview of a topic that would be equally useful for the layperson who knows little about bees and the beekeeper who wants to learn about bees from a more general perspective. Be prepared for a visual treat."
– Roberta Gibson, Wild About Ants
"An everyman's guide to all things bee [...] The Bee: A Natural History by Noah Wilson-Rich is fascinating, fun, and beautiful, a book that is accessible enough for anyone with a general interest, but interesting enough for those with longstanding bee fever. The writing and layout are straightforward and understandable, and the many beautiful pictures should definitely make the book, broad as it is, appealing to a broad audience."
– Mary Bowling, Englewood Review of Books
"This beautifully designed book has great photos and a very appealing look. Each section is very short and gives you a summary of one aspect of bees' lives."
"Enjoy this lovely book. It might lead you into unknown depths of bee life where you never expected to go."
– A.C., Wildlife Activist
"For the novice who has an interest in bees, this book presents a remarkable breadth of topics and provides an entry point to their fascinating biology."
– Gard W. Otis, Great Lakes Entomologist
"It is an engaging, wide-ranging introduction to the natural history of the bee that I found to be a real 'page turner.' One can learn a great deal about bees from the book and, as such, it can serve as an excellent introductory text book on the subject for both formal and informal students of entomology [...] [T]his beautiful book is a real bargain. Bottom line: highly recommended."
– C.P. Dufault, Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Canada