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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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

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

Critic Reviews

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

What listeners say about The Lives of Bees

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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.

11 people found this 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.

4 people found this 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.

9 people found this helpful

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A truly fascinating, scientific view of the h. bee

awesome read, audibly. I doubt I would have gotten thru it visually. sort of text book, but if you are into honey bees, you have to hear this.

2 people found this helpful

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Great book for Beekeepers.

Loved thus book. great perspective on Beekeeping and how the Bees live, reproduce and survive in the wild.

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Absolutely enthralling!! (small bites, though!)

It took me over three months to wade through this volume of a tremendous amount of information. I listened to it in bits and pieces, taking time every now and then to just sift through the compendium of information it contains.
The author includes masses of information about experiments he has done with various hives, to learn what makes them weaker, stronger, long-lived or short of life, and many other variables. One of the things I liked was the inclusion of the scientific names of each plant, animal, or insect that figured in the various stories. He also fluidly converted metric to imperial measures as a matter of course, which made things more understandable.
With the publicity now being given to the plight of the honeybee, and therefore the plight of humanity, this will be an added value to the knowledge base of any active, concerned member of the human race.
Highly recommend, just take it s-l-o-w-l-y and digest the information in small bites.

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Great book! Best I’ve listened too!

This book does an excellent job of explaining the problems bee keepers now face and for now the best way to manage them to eliminate colony collapse disorder.

2 people found this helpful

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A must read for every bee keeper.

A must Read for every backyard beekeeper. If you care about bees, you’ll be fascinated with the research on wild bee colonies and how it relates to moderate beekeeping. Definitely worth your time and money!

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Outstanding

This was a fantastic book, very informative, interesting & well done. I would highly recommend! The narrator was exceptional

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For Beekeepers Only

Unless you manage bees, don’t bother. This book goes into the intricacies of mite control in captive bee colonies. Not really even sure why this is on audible. For me, a useless and extremely boring book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-19-21

Ideal book for Audible.

This book is definitely suited to audible as I don't think I would have read through it all as a book, It's a very interesting book to listen to doing jobs, for me this was chopping wood.
I'm a backyard beekeeper who would like to practice beekeeping in a more bee friendly way using no chemicals to treat my bees. The book goes through years of studying bees in there natural environment and looking at each aspect of there lives and there environmental in the wild. Its amazing the different and pain staking studies that have being done on bees.
At times some of studies and statistics are a bit overwhelming but that the beauty of listening while your doing some thing else. You can focus when the topics interest you.
I'll definitely have to listen to the whole book again but I have picked up a couple of pointers and interesting facts. Unfortunately I will still have to treat my bees for Varrao mites.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Simon Grose
  • 07-19-20

Outstanding information for protecting bees

This book provides an in-depth knowledge of.honeybees and guides the future of beekeeping and the protection of honeybees. Best book out there!

1 person found this helpful

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  • hamish23
  • 07-24-20

repetition and a whopping error regarding varroa

Nothing new for an experienced beekeeper , and the most amazing error regarding what the varroa mite feeds on ...How could a serious science/ bee keeper make such a mistake ! Varroa mites feed on the fatty tissues of honey bees and not their hemoglobin 😂

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  • Severn
  • 07-21-20

Outstanding

This is quite outstanding, one of the very best natural history books I have ever come across. The narrator does a very competent job. Not to be missed.

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  • Torbjørn Andersen
  • 10-28-19

Beautiful text and important message.

This book is a must read for any beekeeper.
Forget all the “how to keep bees books” and adapt to the simple methods that Thomas D Seeley describes in this beautiful text.

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  • Dr Rachel S Stone
  • 09-13-20

Every beekeeper should listen to this

I am a beginner beekeeper & this book is just awesome.
Factual & very easy listening it has helped ease the learning curve while other avenues under lockdown & set me up to get the most out of other learning opportunities.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful