The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild

lives of bees

Thomas D Seeley
Princeton University Press, £25.00

Humanity has a long-time fascination with honey bees. Honey has been found buried in Egyptian pyramids, honey bees feature regularly in Greek and Roman mythology, and nowadays urban beekeeping is on the rise as an often nature-starved generation attempts to reconnect. Many books have told the story of how domestic honey bees live day by day, but the story of how their wild cousins exist has for a long time remained untold.

In The Lives of Bees Professor Thomas Seeley, a leading authority on honey bee biology, offers a snapshot into how wild honey bee colonies live outside the practices of modern beekeeping. Seeley draws on decades of research conducted by himself and colleagues, and describes the nest sites, foraging behaviour and life history of wild honey bees.

Domestic honey bee colonies in North America suffer high levels of decline in contrast to wild colonies, and Seeley not only highlights differences between wild and domestic honey bees, but also offers suggestions as to how modern beekeeping practices can be improved to better help domestic honey bee health.

Seeley’s research is accessible to non-specialists but also contains detailed information that will be of interest to other honey bee biologists. The Lives of Bees will appeal to both beekeepers and biologists interested in how feral honey bee colonies live outside of beekeeping practices.

Dr Harry Siviter