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The Lives of Bees

The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild
Narrated by: William Hope
Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

How the lives of wild honey bees offer vital lessons for saving the world’s managed bee colonies

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 behavior, 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 reveals 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 30 million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He tells 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. 

Engaging 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.

©2019 Thomas D. Seeley (P)2019 Princeton University Press

Critic Reviews

"A wealth of information about honeybees based on decades of scientific research." (Kirkus)

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The Lives of Bees - Read the Book Instead

Bees are fascinating, and clearly, have a significant role to play, pollinating plants and producing honey. This book is a labor of love for the author, who has taken considerable effort to record the behavior of colonies of bees. He describes, in great detail, a range of information he has gathered about bees gained over several years of effort. This work is admirable, and through it, we learn a lot of insight into bees and their behavior. The book has a lot of statistical information, which unfortunately does not come across well in audible format. Reading our tables of data makes for pretty dull listening. The narrator could perhaps have done more to sound more enthusiastic, but I guess he did his best to convey dry statistics. I am listening at 2X speed now to get through it, and am thinking of returning it. If you are interested in bees and their lives, this book offers a fascinating insight and account of their lives and is worth reading. I recommend buying the printed version over the audible version though.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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More for the apiarist than the lay person

I was hoping for an interesting story of the honeybee in the wild, but this book is more for apiarists than the lay person. It lays out experiments and results in what I felt was excruciating detail, but the results don't help me understand the main character: the wild honeybee. Sure, I know higher hives are preferred (and smaller openings, and a very specific range of cavity size), but all those experiments are interesting to the apiarist only. It's a lot of knowledge that doesn't mean much to me. I know more details, but nothing meaningful.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant insights and data

I deeply appreciate this book it is rich and detailed and historically relevant. it is also a social mandate that we all take responsibility to maintain and save our pollinators expecially epic mellifera. bravo sir! ...Thank you for this excellent research..It caused me to search a lot for images of world beekeepers who support forest beekeeping.

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Extraordinary text and information

I'm a huge Thomas Seeley fan and really enjoy the book. I also have the hard copy and am very happy with it.
The audible book is very convenient as I can listen to it while I work.
PROBLEMS with the narration - I kept thinking a truck was coming up my drive as there are background noises included in the narration that simply should not be there. My advice would be to invest in a sound booth so the narration is clean.
Overall William Hope did a nice job but having vehicle background noises is not acceptable in a professional narration.
Great book!
Love the book, the content is exceptional and enriched my understanding of honeybees.
I highly recommend this book!
New or advanced apiary managers will certainly appreciate the information.

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needs an edit for audible

I really wanted to know about this topic and as a scholarly paper it is great. As an audible book it needs a severe edit for listenability and entertainment. Research is not well presented in an audible format. Needs more storytelling and less conversion of metric to nonmetric systems.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-04-19

Outstanding depth and breadth

I loved this book. So much further research will be stimulated by the widely researched content.