The Beekeeper's Lament

The Beekeeper's Lament : How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America

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The honey bee is a miracle. It is the cupid of the natural world. It pollinates crops; making plants bear fruit and helping farmers make money. But in this age of vast industrial agribusiness, never before has so much been asked of such a small wonder. And never before has its survival been so unclear - and the future of our food supply so acutely challenged. In steps John Miller, or rather in he bounds. Miller tasks himself with the care and safe transportation of billions of bees. He is descended from N.E. Miller, America's first migratory beekeeper, and trucks his hives from crop to crop, working the North Dakotan clover in summer and the Californian almonds in winter. He provides the crucial buzz to farmers who are otherwise bereft of natural pollinators, and does so for a price. But while there is steady demand for Miller's miracle workers, especially from the multi-billion-dollar almond industry (without bees an acre of almonds produces no more than 30 lbs of nuts; with bees, 2,000 lbs), he's faced with ever-mounting hive losses. In addition to traditional scourges like bears, wax moths, American foulbrood, tracheal mite, varroa mite, Africanized bees, overturned tractor trailers, bee thieves, PPB (piss-poor beekeeping), etc., beekeepers now lose hives in the most mysterious of ways, when whole colonies simply fly away, abandoning their combs, in an epidemic known as Colony Collapse Disorder. While bad news is in constant supply, Miller forges ahead because he can't imagine doing anything else. He copes and moves on. He works and sometimes triumphs, all with an inspiring sense of humor. "The Beekeeper's Lament" tells his story and that of his bees, creating a complex, moving, and unforgettable portrait of man in the new natural world.

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  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 134.62 x 198.12 x 12.7mm | 136.08g
  • HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • HarperPerennial
  • New YorkUnited States
  • English
  • 10 black and white illustrations
  • 006187325X
  • 9780061873256
  • 85,192

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"A fascinating read from cover to cover." -- Associated Press "Bees are amazing. That's the first reason to read The Beekeeper's Lament, journalist Hannah Nordhaus's rewarding account of migratory beekeeping and the mysterious scourge stalking the domestic bee population... It's metaphorical and poetic, elegiac and somehow sad." -- Christian Science Monitor "The Beekeeper's Lament is at once science lesson, sociological study, and breezy read...A book about bees could easily descend into academe, but the author settles for nothing less than literature." -- Boston Globe "Nordhaus, an award-winning journalist, weaves a dramatic tale of how and why beehives and bees themselves are threatened by everything from mites to moths to bee thieves." -- Washington Post "The book is a rich mix of head and heart." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune "Echoing Rachel Carson's 1962 attack on the effects of pesticides, Silent Spring, Nordhaus explores this fascinating subject, providing long overdue recognition to the beekeeper and their task as stewards of a species." -- Financial Times "A fascinating peek into the precarious business of keeping the nation's crops pollinated." -- Smithsonian "Some of the best narrative and storytelling I've had the pleasure of reading since Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks...You must read this book." -- Maggie Koerth-Baker, Boing Boing "A remarkable book...Nordhaus uses a somber, lyrical writing style to make bees into just about the most fascinating subject you've ever encountered while at the same time crafting an elegiac metaphor for the contingency of modern American life." -- The Millions "A graceful, informative, and engaging book." -- Hill Rag "Her book is extraordinary in its breadth and depth, and most of all, it is exquisitely written...The Beekeeper's Lament offers us a fascinating peek into the diverse, interrelated, and worrisome aspects of the beekeeper's world...Enjoyable and enlightening." -- AlterNet "A crackerjack story...the author struck gold...Nordhaus is a lively writer who...ably conveys the economics of the trade...and is just as able to describe the romance and miracle of honey...A smooth-as-honey tour d'horizon of the raggedy world of beekeeping." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "In this revelatory, bittersweet investigation into the state of commercial beekeeping in the 21st century, Nordhaus follows the migratory life of a commercial beekeeper, John Miller, as he trucks his bees between California and North Dakota...and, against all odds, keep[s] his bees and his business alive." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Miller is a complex and colorful man, and his story, along with the story of the bees, is an engaging read." -- Booklist "Highly recommended as both a character study and a compelling popular science work for interested readers." -- Library Journal "This book is a terrific read." -- American Bee Journal "I loved The Beekeeper's Lament. With great reporting and great writing, Hannah Nordhaus gives a new angle on an ever-evolving topic. You'll learn a lot." -- Bernd Heinrich, author of Winter World and Mind of the Raven "Hannah Nordhaus has written an engaging account of the men and insects who put food on our tables. The Beekeeper's Lament is a sweet, sad story." -- Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe "Rollicking, buzzing, and touching meditation on mortality...You'll never think of bees, their keepers, or the fruits (and nuts) of their labors the same way again." -- Trevor Corson, author of The Secret Life of Lobsters and The Story of Sushi

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About Hannah Nordhaus

Hannah Nordhaus is the author of the critically acclaimed national bestseller The Beekeeper's Lament, which was a PEN Center USA Book Awards finalist, a Colorado Book Awards finalist, and a National Federation of Press Women Book Award winner. She has written for the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, Outside magazine, the Times Literary Supplement, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She lives with her husband and two children in Boulder, Colorado.

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