Where would we be without bees? A third of what we eat and much of what we wear relies on pollination by honeybees. So the fact that honeybees are in desperate trouble as their numbers plummet across the planet is of major concern to all of us.
A World Without Bees, whose authors are keen beekeepers themselves, outlines the history of the human relationship with the honeybee, going back to early cave paintings of bees. It then explores all the stresses that we put on bees, including trucking bees across the USA to pollinate crops across the country (but especially the Californian almond orchards); the effects of pesticides and fungicides and the spread of parasites such as the Varroa mite. The authors speak to scientists, farmers and bee-keepers to try to analyse how these stresses fit in with the widely observed colony collapse disorder which sees hives suddenly lose all or most of their bees.
This is sobering, depressing reading and doesn't really offer any solutions. But one thing is certain, we need to save the bees, if we are to have any meaningful future ourselves.
A World Without Bees by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum published by Guardian Books.
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