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Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, yet only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. The Lives of Bees is Thomas Seeley's captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behaviour, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside the beekeeper's hive – and how wild honey bees may hold the key to reversing the alarming die-off of the planet's managed honey bee populations.
Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, sheds light on why wild honey bees are still thriving while those living in managed colonies are in crisis. Drawing on the latest science as well as insights from his own pioneering fieldwork, he describes in extraordinary detail how honey bees live in nature and shows how this differs significantly from their lives under the management of beekeepers. Seeley presents an entirely new approach to beekeeping – Darwinian Beekeeping – which enables honey bees to use the toolkit of survival skills their species has acquired over the past thirty million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He shows beekeepers how to use the principles of natural selection to guide their practices, and he offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees.
Engagingly written and deeply personal, The Lives of Bees reveals how we can become better custodians of honey bees and make use of their resources in ways that enrich their lives as well as our own.
Thomas D. Seeley is the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell University. He is the author of Following the Wild Bees, Honeybee Democracy, and Honeybee Ecology (all Princeton) as well as The Wisdom of the Hive. He lives in Ithaca, New York.
"Honey bees have had a close relationship with humans for thousands of years, but they are endangered due to over-domestication. Seeley gives a view of many still living free in the wild, providing a model of their healthy lives. A must-read for anyone interested in the fascinating social behavior of this species, and for those who keep honey bees for fun or profit."
– Bernd Heinrich, author of The Hot-Blooded Insects
"Thomas Seeley is the great detective of the bee world, unearthing clues that make this fascinating creature even more compelling. This is science at its most congenial!"
– Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?