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A World Without Bees [Paperback]

Alison Benjamin , Brian McCallum
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Jun 2009

Honeybees are dying.

In America, one in three hives was left lifeless at the beginning of 2008

In France, the death rate was more than 60 percent.

In Britain, a government minister warned that honey bees could be extinct within a decade.

A third of all that we eat, and much of what we wear, relies on pollination by honeybees. So if - or when - the world loses its black-and-yellow workers, the consequences will be dire.

What is behind this catastrophe?

Viruses, parasites, pesticides and climate change have all been blamed. As has modern monoculture agribusiness.In this timely book, two keen amateur apiarists investigate all the claims and counterclaims with the help of scientists and beekeepers in Europe, America and beyond.

They ask the question that will soon be on everyone's lips: is there any possible way of saving the honeybees - and, with them, the world as we know it?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Guardian Books; Reprint edition (4 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0852651317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852651315
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


surprisingly moving (Metro)

a highly enjoyable, polished, well-researched homage to the honeybee (Observer)

The success of A World Without Bees lies in its explanation of the challenges faced by the honeybee population and the intensiveness of commercial beekeeping (Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

'If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left.' Albert Einstein

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
I read this wonderful book in one very long sitting; I really could not stop once I started. Having grown up surrounded, in my immediate family, by the 1950's acute nature-awareness of the early Soil Association days of Bob Waller and Harold Horne et al, it was like deja vu to me.
The authors have been very disciplined in producing a really worthwhile book; it is almost perfectly objective, and therefore above cheap criticism. They have worked immensely hard to source a huge amount of sound material, and they have taken the trouble to understand it thoroughly before using it in their book. And the mystery at issue is no less than how terrifyingly detached from truth we are becoming, and how little we now understand our own misery and poverty of life in the midst of all our illusion of ease; how deprived of reality we have already become.
Read it! In the morning, the evening, on the train, in the bath, but read it. It is more real than most other stuff you will find on printed paper or glowing on a monitor any day of the year.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely, persuasive and necessary 25 July 2008
If climate change doesn't get you, the disappearance of the honeybee will - this is the rather gloomy message of Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum's well researched and engagingly written new book on Colony Collapse Disorder - a honeybee `plague' which has already killed millions of bees worldwide. Some 90 commercial crops owe their continued existence to the pollination services provided free of charge by the honeybee so its fair to say that A World Without Bees is an important book. For it to succeed in its mission it has to put the fear of God into us without losing us to jargon. It does so admirably, taking us through the rather complicated but interesting world of honeybee health, politics and economics and delivering us to a conclusion which lays the blame firmly on our own shoulders. Time to start talking about bee rights? Could be.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honey bees, that is 19 Jun 2009
Alison Benjamin is a journalist who, together with her partner Brian McCallum, is also (like me) an amateur beekeeper. (I see that she has also written an introductory book on beekeeping.) Over the last year or two, fueled by the crisis that is hitting honey bee populations, particularly in the USA but also in the UK and Europe, public interest in honey bees has soared. This book feeds off that interest, and does so very well. It is written in a popular journalistic style that can be appreciated by anyone who is interested in the subject, which should be all of us. No background knowledge of bees or beekeeping is required. The authors themselves are neither scientists nor professional beekeepers, but have done their homework thoroughly, consulting a wide variety of professionals. They deal with a number of hazards facing today's bees, and a number of suggestions for alleviating (I doubt whether they would go so far as to say solving) the problem. For example, the role of other pollenating insects is explored briefly. There are no facile statements of the problem, and no proposed silver bullet; just a thorough exploration of the issues from a variety of angles. The first edition of this book came out in 2008, just two years after Colony Collapse Disorder was first identified in the USA, and it has been updated for 2009, so is very up-to-date as I write this review. Anyone interested in green issues, beekeeper or not, will learn a lot from it.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I had hoped. 24 Jan 2009
A World Without Bees

I had eagerly awaited this book which I was expecting as a Christmas present and for the first few chapters I wasn't disappointed. The huge industrialisation of the honeybee world, particularly in the US, was a revelation to me as were the myriad of facts about bee behaviour revealed in a further chapter.

However, this is a book primarily about honeybees, not the other bees we regularly see in British gardens, and there does seem to be an emphasis on the problems experienced by American beekeepers. I was left wondering if the problems highlighted in the British press last year were completely unrelated to the problems outlined in this book.

It is obvious that the authors are enthusiastic about their subject, and there is no doubt that it is a subject that needs more attention and publicity, but, for me there was too much repetition in this book. It was like watching a documentary that was made for American television, with the main facts repeated after each advert break in case you forgot them whilst making a cup of tea. Topics covered in earlier chapters were repeated, albeit at relevant sections, but it felt as though the authors were short of things to write.

I wanted to give this book a higher rating, but, although it is an interesting and informative read, I was left feeling a little disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An angry buzzing noise to warn... 29 Feb 2012
By blossom
In 2008 Society Guardian editor Alison Benjamin and her Geography teacher partner Brian McCallum, who keep bees as a hobby, wrote the book A World Without Bees.

A highly fluid text, the shocking truth on bees, their health and the commercial beekeeping occupation is easily read. Benjamin and McCallum cover all corners of the beekeeping globe, and all the problems, innovations, opinions and possible solutions to the flight of the bee from their homes in the latest epidemic - Colony Collapse Disorder.

In the book, the writers show the ancient and continuing importance of bees to humans, exemplified in their inclusion of such prominent people's words on the fuzzy fellows and cultures, such as Aristotle, the Egyptians, Pliny the Elder, the Aztecs, Anglo-Saxon feudal lords, medieval Russia and Britain, Christianity and the Pilgrim Fathers to name but a few.

The co-authors also show that the bee and its hierarchy have been used to justify and explain feudalism, parliamentary rule, the French Revolution and industrialisation. (The last being one reason why we've chosen to start a project on trying to save bees since it is the symbol of Manchester, where industrialisation began, and where you can see bees in our neo-Gothic town hall and on our bollards.)

But they also get down to the nitty-gritty, interviewing scientists and beekeepers from all over the world and all walks of life, looking at the evidence and trying to evaluate what is happening. We start in California's almond orchards that stretch millions of miles across (and today happens to be Almond Day in the USA, coincidentally).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good, read.
Published 5 days ago by Joanne Atherton
5.0 out of 5 stars We need to stop exploiting them
Great book. Alison writes many informative articles for the Guardian, and reflects the desperate plight of the honey bee. Read more
Published 7 months ago by John S Bell
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake up Call
Although not quite through reading all the book it has delivered a serious wake up message to all who choose to read it. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mr. M. C. Desmond
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype
This book hypes up the dangers to bees inappropriately. It has lead to people all over the UK thinking bees are in danger here, when they aren't. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Rufus
2.0 out of 5 stars Life without bees could have been better
I expected this book to be informative, which it was. However, it was so repetitive that I couldn't wait to finish it. Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2011 by MumH
4.0 out of 5 stars Imagine a summer without the hum of the honeybee...
`A World Without Bees' is a fascinating and timely book exploring the possible reasons behind the massive decline of the western honeybee over recent years. Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2011 by Miss E. Potten
4.0 out of 5 stars Important, informative and unsettling
`A World Without Bees` takes an in-depth look into why honeybees all over the world are disappearing and what that might mean for us. Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2010 by E. Cooper
3.0 out of 5 stars Research good; writing style...mmm...
This reads more like a thesis than a book which seems (when it was first published especially) to want to bring the plight of bees to the general knowledge of the public. Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2010 by M. Oxby
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but maybe a little over the top
I found this a fascinating book that teaches you a lot about bees. It is amazing how important these little animals are. Read more
Published on 14 May 2010 by A. P. J. Jansen
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
After reading some negative reviews I wasn't too sure if it was worth getting but I'm glad I did. While I can not say it's a fantastic book or one of my top bee books, I can... Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2010 by Severn
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Great book, shame about the Einstein misquote on the back cover. 2 14 Mar 2009
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