Hanson examines our contemporary relationship with bees, visiting farmers who depend on bees for pollination. Beekeepers move thousands of colonies from crop to blooming crop throughout the year, helping pollinate one out of every three bites we eat, including the good stuff, like berries, cherries, melons, peaches, lettuce and almonds. Armed with tweezers and a hand lens, he performs a Michael Pollan-esque deconstruction of a McDonald’s Big Mac, removing the ingredients that require pollination. 'Certainly,' he writes, 'the advertising slogan wouldn’t have been nearly as catchy: ‘Two all-beef patties, bun'... Mr. Hanson is an insightful observer of evolution, at his most elegant when digging deep into the science, and at his clumsiest, ironically, when he tries to make that science more relevant to his readers: comparing bees that lay eggs in other bees’ nests to mooching college roommates, for instance; or noting that humans, like bees, are social creatures, even if certain humans 'do spend a lot of their time alone, sitting in shacks, writing books'
A love letter to wild bees ... BEES ARE IN TROUBLE. The alarm bells began ringing a little over a decade ago, when beekeepers entered previously healthy apiaries and found most of their colonies dead. Today, in the United States, 35–45 percent of colonies die every year...a tragedy in itself but also a serious economic challenge for the crops that depend on honeybees for pollination ... Thor Hanson’s love letter to wild bees, Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees , is thus timely ... To be sure, his book is not a comprehensive guide, but rather a collection of connected essays that reveal fascinating aspects of wild bee biology ... I have only a minor quibble with Hanson’s otherwise appealing book. He’s clearly fond of wild bee researchers as much as the bees they study, but his writing about those he interviewed is too narrowly focused on their obsessive qualities, depicting them as frazzled, overworked, and eccentric. There may be some truth to these stereotypes, but there’s also considerable personal depth and variation among scientists ... the core message of this charming book: be fascinated, and hopefully that will lead us to take action to protect these marvelous and critically important insects.
Most people who encounter the busiest residents of their suburban gardens or parks wouldn't think to encounter them in the world's desert places, and yet thousands of the world's bee species have adapted to desert living. This versatility is one of the many remarkable features of the enormous bee family, a crowded family tree that gets a loving, infectiously enthusiastic natural history in Thor Hanson's new book, Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees ... he explores the long history of these insects...and of course the looming threat of collapsing bee populations all over the world—including in deserts, where, ironically, they may hold out the longest.