The Lives Of Bees –
The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild;
by Thomas D. Seeley -
Book Review

This is an excellent book, and one I would recommend to all beekeepers, not to mention anyone with a fascination for this amazing little insect.

It’s not just because Seeley (author of Honey Bee Democracy and Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell University) is a renowned researcher and writer on the subject of honey bees that I recommend it wholeheartedly. 

In this book, Seeley has meticulously compiled years of study and research into the genetics, health and natural nesting habits of Apis mellifera in the wild, from which he concludes his book with genuinely useful suggestions as to how beekeepers can adapt their practices for the benefit of the colony and their own ventures into beekeeping.  

Standard practices in beekeeping are contrasted with natural behavior and nesting conditions of successful colonies in the wild, and you can’t miss the stark contrast.   For long-time advocates of api-centric beekeeping, many of Seeley’s suggestions will not only ring true, they provide scientific backing for some of those ideas.    If Seeley's practical suggestions are followed, the result should be the raising of colonies better able to survive the challenges presented in domestic beekeeping scenarios.

Seeley also proposes a new term: 'Darwinian Beekeeping'.  It’s a great term when you read what he has to say, and also think about it.  There is space within this term to allow beekeeping to continue, whilst facilitating the optimum conditions for the healthiest bees to thrive – that includes allowing that nature  take its course, and that a defense mechanisms against Varroa is allowed to evolve naturally.

The book - the lives of bees by Thomas D Seeley

Finally, I’m going to pinch a couple of review comments from the rear of the book jacket:

By Kim Flottum, editor of Bee culture magazine:

“This remarkable book eloquently explains how to be a better partner with honey bees, using nature as a guide.  Seeley draws on insight and wisdom gleaned from a lifetime of research and hard work – and provides plenty of instructions and illustrations.  The Lives Of Bees is for everyone who has, or wants to have, honey bees in their lives.”

By Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota:

“Using beautifully crafted arguments, Seeley challenges us to let bees be bees.  Drawing from his life study of colonies in the wild, Seeley provides a timely reminder of all the amazing strategies that honey bees have evolved to survive on their own.”

Thomas D. Seeley's  The Lives Of Bees is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

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