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Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation

by Tammy Horn (Author)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
The honeybee isn't native to the U.S., but it's hard to imagine the country
without it. Like cattle, another imported species, the honeybee helped transform
what European settlers saw as a vast wilderness into a land of milk and honey.
First-time author Horn, who learned beekeeping from her grandfather, provides a
wealth of worthy material about bees in America, from the use of the hive
metaphor to justify colonization in the 1500s and 1600s, to bees' role in
pollinating the prairies and orchards that we now take for granted. She
discusses the attitudes of native peoples toward the insects; the beekeeping
practices of African Americans, women and new immigrants; advances in beekeeping
technology; the role of honey and beeswax in the U.S. economy; and the use of
bee imagery in the arts. While Horn's affection for her subject is always
evident, her efforts to tie beekeeping to every aspect of American life are
sometimes strained—as when she writes that "because major social rifts [in the
1950s] were threatening to tear apart the 'good life,' this country's arts
environment used the honey bee to negotiate difficult power struggles between
races, between spouses, between political parties, between generations, [and]
between legal rulings." Horn's thesis is better served without such overreaching
and unconvincing claims.

From Booklist
Historian and beekeeper Horn examines the arrival of the honey bee into North
America and traces the influence of this valuable insect. When European
colonists first settled on the East Coast, bee colonies in traditional straw
skeps were considered to be essential equipment. Bees, through swarming, settled
the country in advance of white settlers, and the Indians began to refer to them
as the white man's fly. Beekeeping in America provided two essentials for
colonists--wax for candles and honey for sweetening. Bee culture, beekeepers,
and the moral values presented by the life of the bees in the hive all had major
influence on how societies viewed themselves. The parallel story of the
development of modern beekeeping and the effects of war, pesticides, and
urbanization on the keeping of bees serves as a metaphor for the changes in
human society. This excellent example of the effects agriculture has on history
will be a welcome addition to the farming collection.

Product Details

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (April 21, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0813191637



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