The Beekeeper's Lament

How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America
Narrated by: Xe Sands
Length: 7 hrs and 6 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (758 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning journalist Hannah Nordhaus tells the remarkable story of John Miller, one of America's foremost migratory beekeepers, and the myriad and mysterious epidemics threatening American honeybee populations.

In luminous, razor-sharp prose, Nordhaus explores the vital role that honeybees play in American agribusiness, the maintenance of our food chain, and the very future of the nation. With an intimate focus and incisive reporting, in a book perfect for fans of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, and John McPhee's Oranges, Nordhaus' stunning exposé illuminates one of the most critical issues facing the world today, offering insight, information, and, ultimately, hope.

©2011 Hannah Nordhaus (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A fascinating read from cover to cover." ( Associated Press)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting listen!

Would you listen to The Beekeeper's Lament again? Why?

I didn't listen to it straight through as the content is dry - you need to love bees to love this book - so I listened in stages but the book is well done and interesting. Performance was great.

30 people found this helpful

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Wow

I learned so much. The narration was wonderful and the story pulled me in. I found myself wondering what will become of the honey bees. I’m always watching for them to visit my gardens and now, more than previously, I cheer when they arrive in the springtime. This book has definitely provided an inside look at the honeybee’s world and of their keepers.

13 people found this helpful

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From a beekeeper

I could hear Miller's personality and voice as I sit here and wire frames, wondering if the crazy rain will let up so virgins that I grafted from Dr. Greg Hunt's Purdue University Mite biter breeders can take mating flights. The writing is so damn good. Such a great writer; well researched on so many levels. The reader's voice. So in tune and so real. Incredible incredible performance. I'm a man and not afraid to say that this made me smile and cry at the same time, more than once. Thank you so much Hanna Nordhaus and Xe Sands.

72 people found this helpful

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If you are a bee enthusiasts this is a great book.

I will read this book again and share it with my beekeeper friends. Nice narration also.

8 people found this helpful

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Loved the book

Well worth the read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the author is a good storyteller. I also enjoyed the history of beekeeping through the book comma and I feel like I understand the background and importance of bees. I will listen to this again on Audible.

28 people found this helpful

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Beekeeping for beginners

I did not really know what to expect, so my expectations were low. After the first chapter I found myself very interested and where the book was going. Listening to the process of beekeeping was an interesting topic. I had no idea the intricacies involved. Moving the hives back-and-forth, finding the right flowers, loading and unloading, dormancy… Very interesting book.

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent insight

Excellent insight into the minds and lives of some of the big names in US beekeeping. History of bee ailments, remedies and struggles will help you learn more about this amazing hobby or profession.
I highly recommend this book to the beginner and hobbyist alike.

10 people found this helpful

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Interesting and Informative

I have always loved bees and beekeepers. My dad kept twenty hives when I was a little girl, but lost them to pesticides when the apple orchard he placed them in was sprayed. He then kept just two or three hives in our yard. I had a tiny veil and beesuit when I was a little girl and I loved helping him. This book brought back some of that nostalgia, but it also gave me much information about modern beekeepers and modern bee woes. The book is well-written. The narrator is wonderful. The topic is fascinating. I even came away with a modicum of hope inspire of the dire situation.

4 people found this helpful

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Bees, beekeepers, & how we eat

Bees pollinate plants that produce about a third of America's food supply, and while once the bees mostly were wild "volunteers," the European honeybee, the most reliable pollinator in North America, is largely gone from the wild. Agriculture relies on professional, commercial beekeepers, who travel with their hives to the fields and orchards that need them

It's useful to remember that the honeybee was never native here anyway. It came with the Europeans. The single most profitable crop that it pollinates is California's almond crop, which is also not native to North America. It's native to the Middle East and southern Asia.

The almond is booming in the US. The honeybee is in trouble, and both dependent on and threatened by the increasing dominance of the almond crop in its life cycle.

John Miller, a beekeeper with a large and, by beekeeper standards, pretty successful business, from a family with four generations of beekeeping history, is the primary focus of this book, but not by any means the only beekeeper we learn about.

We tend to think of beekeeping being about honey, but because of both imported honey, and a lack of any agreed or enforced standards for either purity or labeling, honey is not where beekeepers make their money. Profit in beekeeping comes from the migratory pollenization business--and increasingly primarily from almond pollenization. Pollenization of other other crops is increasingly marginal, with a primary benefit keeping the hives fed and healthy. In some cases, it produces good honey, but often the best honey comes from plants that are regarded as invasive weeds More useful crops may or may not produce honey that's good for anyone but the bees.

Some very useful crops produce honey that even the bees don't want, if they can reach other plants than the ones they've been brought in to pollinate.

And on top of all that, are all the bad things that can happen to bees and their hives. Colony Collapse Disorder made headlines a few years ago. The headlines have faded, but the cause hasn't been identified, and colony collapse still happens. In addition, there are a lot of parasites and diseases that can damage or completely wipe out hives. There is constant research to protect the bees, but often as one parasite or disease is defeated, another appears.

Oh, and there are different varieties of bees, some better pollinators and some worse, some forming larger hives and some smaller, some Africanized honey bees. Or, as the Africanized bees are colloquially known, "killer bees."

The Africanized bees are not as aggressive as their reputation, and may become less so as they continue to hybridize with the European varieties in North America, but they are sufficiently more aggressive that American beekeepers are not eager to adopt them. They are, though, good pollinators, and make good honey, and are more resistant to some threats than European honey bees.

On the other hand, they are less cold hardy, which is a major problem in more northerly regions. They can't get through a northern winter in a protected cellar with a good supply of honey or corn syrup.

Beekeepers are always hoping next year will be a good year.

Beekeeping, its history in North America, and its realities today are fascinating and complex, and well worth a listen, or a read.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

3 people found this helpful

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delightful and informative

I had a great time listening to this audio book. The narrator has a very pleasant voice, and she tells the story well. I learned a lot of good stuff about bees and honey, and the plight of bees. It made my commute pleasurable.

3 people found this helpful