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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect holiday reading
People who already have an interest in bees and bee-keeping will enjoy "The Hive". But I've never been near a bee-hive, and I was totally gripped. "The Hive" is really more about people than about bees. It's the story of how different cultures through the ages have seen bee hives as a model for human society. The book is divided up into short thematic sections, on...
Published on 15 Dec 2004

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars informative, extensive but a bit of a Yellow Pages of what men think of bees
A great idea to start with, and the author has researched her subject accurately I would think and extensively, however I find I am pushing myself to read the book, and I skip pages as it reads more as an inventory of ideas about bees and beekeeping through the ages than an exciting book.

Indeed, I thought it would read more as an engaging documentary as...
Published on 21 Sep 2011 by Le Tigre


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect holiday reading, 15 Dec 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us (Hardcover)
People who already have an interest in bees and bee-keeping will enjoy "The Hive". But I've never been near a bee-hive, and I was totally gripped. "The Hive" is really more about people than about bees. It's the story of how different cultures through the ages have seen bee hives as a model for human society. The book is divided up into short thematic sections, on things like Sex, Politics and Life and Death. It's always readable, and often very funny; there is a hilarious picture of a bee-keeper wearing a bee beard. , Wilson's touch is always light, but her book makes an important argument about the ways human beings impose their own vision onto the lives of animals. It will be of interest both to political theorists and to those interested in animal rights and animal welfare. "The Hive" is a very pretty book, which also includes some nice honey recipes. It would make a great gift, but you might want to get a copy for yourself, too!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting a buzz, 17 July 2005
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us (Hardcover)
Moving to a city meant abandoning my bees. The loss of truly fresh honey was aggravating by wondering if the bees "knew" me and felt the absence. Such feelings are examined in historical detail in this delightful book. "Bee" [Beatrice] Wilson's career as a food journalist has provided an excellent background for this history. She has a talent for reaching a wide audience, with a good balance for history, personality and shared interests. It's almost impossible to finish this account without wanting to rush to Paris' Maison du Miel [or its local quivalent] and browse through the selection of honey sitting on the shelves waiting to pleasure your palate.
The title is an indicator - how we've related to bees, their habits and their delicious product has a long history. Bees are the one social animal we've had a deep relationship with. They've provided templates to explain or guide human society - although we've been almost always wrong in how their society forms and operates. Early civilisations viewed them as warrior monarchies, ruled by a "king" driving, or being supported by, a soldier caste. Wilson examines six areas where humans have dealt with bees as their counterparts: work, sex, politics, food and drink, life and death. In their most intimate relationship, she adds the beekeeper as her conclusion.
Wilson explains how early commentators viewed the drone-worker relationship as symbolic of human society. Even today's leading British entomologist, Francis Ratnieks, compares the partitioning of roles to "the efficiency of the modern supermarket". The hive is actually superior in that it needs no central management to control events. The constant activity, however, has led many societies to adopt the hive as a symbol of "industriousness". Perhaps the most famous example is Brigham Young's Mormon "Deseret" colony. The bees showed how cooperation could accomplish anything. Wilson, in contrast, shows how worker bees go through successive levels of participation in simply doing the same thing over and over through the generations. Even a new colony simply repeats an age-old process.
The mystery of how bees procreate, mixed with the various views of how colonies were organised, led to some bizarre interpretations. So long as the "monarch" was seen as male, bee-human comparisons seemed apt. When it was discovered that the big bee, the centre of so much hive activity, was female ature itself appeared overturned. The idea of a single female, adored by crowds of "gallants" was abhorrent. That didn't prevent commentators from rationalising the arrangement.
Wilson recounts the views of numerous observers of apian life. Certain figures stand out, of course. Dutchman Jan Swammerdam had determined the sex of the hive "monarch". A dedicated naturalist, Swammerdam made meticulous drawings of bee anatomy, some still unmatched today. In Britain, it's Charles Butler who spanned the late 16th and early 17th Centuries, was the first serious observer of bee society. Karl von Frisch, of course, is honoured as the man who revealed how bees communicate, and that they perceive flowers in the ultraviolet part of the light spectrum. His discovery of the "waggle dance" as a means of imparting location of food sources among worker bees ultimately granted him a Nobel Prize. That he began his work refuting a false notion of colour perception in animals has a touch of
irony.
Wilson worked hard to give us this excellent summary of an insect essential to humanity. Pollinating orchards, providing a non-fattening sweetener, giving us valuable insights to Nature's processes, bees have gained a spirited champion with this book. Not a stolid academic study, the author graces her lively text with illustrations, photographs and a thorough bibliography of her research. She also rekindles my longing for a return to beekeeping and fresh honey. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars readable, 21 Dec 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us (Hardcover)
I'm studying politics at university and I don't usually have much time for outside reading. But my aunt gave me this book as an early christmas present, and I read it straight away. It really caught my attention. There's lots of interesting stories, like about how they used to think bees were all male even the Queen. It shows you how the politics of the time affected how they saw the bees. Now I'm making some of the honey cake recipes. It's a really nice book, it teaches you a lot about the past but not in a heavy way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating history, 16 Nov 2013
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Gripping read for anyone interested in the history of mans interaction and affinity with bees.
In depth information covering all aspects of how bees have affected human archaeology etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday present, 12 Oct 2010
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This was a birthday present for a friend and she appears to be absolutly delighted with Bee Wilson's book. Very informative easy to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bees, 12 Aug 2012
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I was recommended to get this book and am waiting to read it. Looks brilliant and just what I ordered.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book, 17 April 2012
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The book arrived in super quick time. I cannot really comment on the contents as it was for a gift but the cover is beautiful to look at and the recipient was thrilled to receive it and after flicking through could not wait to get it home and begin reading.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars informative, extensive but a bit of a Yellow Pages of what men think of bees, 21 Sep 2011
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A great idea to start with, and the author has researched her subject accurately I would think and extensively, however I find I am pushing myself to read the book, and I skip pages as it reads more as an inventory of ideas about bees and beekeeping through the ages than an exciting book.

Indeed, I thought it would read more as an engaging documentary as opposed to a univeristy dissertation full of serious little facts.

I may be more drawn to beliefs about the bees as in religious (Minoan art reverred the bees, I personally believe bees were associated with the feminine ascred for a long time, shamanism, and bee behaviour rather than the history of anything related to honey-making.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 Aug 2014
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Gift purchase arrived on time good quality
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The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us
The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us by Bee Wilson (Hardcover - 13 Sep 2004)
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