natural history book contains much: from evolutionary biology to well-chosen
literary quotes, mythology and our ancient relationship with bees, to personal anecdotes (either personal to Thor himself – for example,
the time he put his foot into a knee-high rubber boot, to discover that a queen
bumblebee was apparently “setting up housekeeping” in there! - or to other persons mentioned within the book).
And it is
beautifully written. Even anatomical
descriptions are given Mr Hanson’s special linguistic magic, for example:
“The mandibles and tongues of
bees look industrial, like things that should move with cogs and cables instead
of a muscle".
(On alkali bee wings):“Up close, they look like stained glass windows awaiting the addition of color, their cellophane thinness strengthened by a lattice of dark, structural veins. Each side of the bee bears two wings, though they often appear as one, held together by an ingenious system of tiny hooks and folds.”
There are also some great snippets of information such as this:
“A bumblebee species native to the Himalayas is thought to be the world’s highest-flying insect: it is still able to hover at elevations beyond the peak of Mount Everest.”
At the back of the book in the appendices, you’ll find a summary of the bee families of the world.
In short, this a book that presents lots of interesting information about the topic of ‘bees’ (which is probably much, much bigger – and at times, more surprising, than many people realize) in a highly readable style.
This is a book simply to enjoy (a quiet day sitting outdoors in the sunshine, or a rainy day indoors on the couch), not merely for all that it tells, but the way in which it is told.
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