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26
4.6 out of 5 stars
Honeybee Democracy
Format: HardcoverChange
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2011
This book details how the author spent a lifetime 'reverse engineering' bee swarms and the way they choose their hives. It reveals some amazing insights into behaviour of the honeybee and social insects in general. It's fascinating that bees have a sophisticated democratic and innate decision making system that ensures their survival, lending further weight to the idea of group selection not just individual selection being a natural imperative.

Overview:
1. Hive splits and swarms.
2. Scouts spend next few days searching for suitable homes.
3. Scouts sense the quality of their findings and announce with waggle dances.
4. Other scouts are recruited to confirm quality and report back to the swarm.
5. A consensus on the swarm is reached by way of reaching quorum at the successful site.
6. Scouts then start piping to get all bees to warm their flight muscles to 35C.
7. Scouts then buzz run to launch the swarm.
8. Swarm then flies directly to site with scouts acting as navigators.

The details are marvelous. The adaptation of the bees' system for use in human decision making processes is derided by some but the idea is fascinating and worthy of exploration.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Tom Seeley's book is a classic text it explains many features of swarm behaviour that was either previously suspected but not proven or completely unknown until he conducted his research. It goes into great depth but is written in a very friendly easy style that's a joy to read, it really is one of the best books on bee behaviour written in the last hundred years. For the beekeeper it provides invaluable insights into bee behaviour which can only assist in our efforts to understand this amazing little insect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2014
Excellent book. Clearly written. Lots of diagrams and illustrations. Lots of carefully observed experiments to find out how/why honeybees swarm and how they decide on a new home. As new bee keepers we are keen to read as much as possible on the subject. This is of the best book we have found about this aspect of bee keeping.

Also recommend 'The Barefoot Bee Keeper' by Phil Chandler on the subject of Top Bar Bee Keeping.

Have ordered another book by Thomas D Seeley 'The Wisdom of the Hive' which is extra-ordinarily expensive. I've managed to get it cheaper but still a lot to pay. However if it is anything like this one, which I'm sure it will be, it will be worth every penny. I shall review that when I have read it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2011
I keep recommending this book to everyone. The text is excellent, the pictures are excellent, the quality of the publishing is excellent. Thomas Seeley is a mix of passion, intelligence, precision, inspiration. We should all read this book so that hopefully bees help us to become a better society!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2010
This book sets out in the form of an integrated account the results of approaching 60 years of research on how honeybees choose sites for their hives. We learn what good sites are like (how big they should be, where they should be located, their physical characteristics), we learn how they are evaluated by scout bees (all scouts tend to assess sites similarly) and how those evaluations are communicated to fellow bees (through complex dances), we learn how a consensus emerges (through "decay" of enthusiasms and new converts to the best sites), and how bees head for the new site (scouts act as "streaker bees", leading the way).

This is a wonderfully adapted and effective system (though only 25% of new hives survive a winter in the wild) and we are all bound to think humans could learn a thing or two from the honeybee. The concluding chapters suggest analogies to decision-taking WITHIN primates, to New England Town Meetings, and to the way the author conducts faculty meetings at his university. The author is keen on "leaderless" decision-taking. This works fine for honeybees, where all bees think the same about what makes a good site for a hive. Is it good where creativity is required in decisions? (You want to invent the Walkman.) Is it good in politics (where people tend not to agree what makes for a just society)? What I wondered was about research on mating in humans - but this not covered.

So: this book is very strong on decision-taking in honeybees; and quite thought-provoking about decision-taking in human beings; but much less persuasive on the latter.
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on 24 October 2012
This week I've been joking about Tom being my new best freind. I've been carrying this big book around with me all week and LOVING it. Fantastically complex science, explained with perfect simplicity. I'm wide eyed and in awe. I really recommend this book. It gives a great insight into honey bee behaviour and was helpful in helping me study for my BBKA modules.
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on 27 August 2012
An excellent and informative book for anyone interested in honeybees. As a bee colony becomes overcrowded, a swarm departs with the old queen to produce a new colony. Seeley describes how the bees choose a final site and navigate to their new home. He investigates how evolution has honed the decision making methods of honeybees over millions of years.
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on 20 January 2013
The book started out very interesting but should have stopped halfway through - a bit repetitive.I guess as it is written by a scientific researcher, that is why he gives excellent descriptions of his experiments and then follows up by summaries. Worth reading just for the insight into how bees work together.
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on 16 December 2013
This book arrived in good time and turned out to be a most informative read giving me much to share
with my fellow Apairist. It is well presented, but a little heavy to read on ones lap, it needs a cushion
to ease ones arms/
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on 5 February 2013
A good read for beekeepers looking for background information from a man who has an excellent knowledge of bees. Very readable piece of research. All researchers should love and respect bees like he does
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