The Beekeeper's Lament
How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America
By Hannah Nordhaus
Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061873256, 269pp.
Publication Date: May 2011
List Price: $14.99*
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The honey bee is a willing conscript, a working wonder, an unseen and crucial link in America's agricultural industry. But never before has its survival been so unclear--and the future of our food supply so acutely challenged.
Enter beekeeper John Miller, who trucks his hives around the country, bringing millions of bees to farmers otherwise bereft of natural pollinators. Even as the mysterious and deadly epidemic known as Colony Collapse Disorder devastates bee populations across the globe, Miller forges ahead with the determination and wry humor of a true homespun hero. The Beekeeper's Lament tells his story and that of his bees, making for a complex, moving, and unforgettable portrait of man in the new natural world.
“A fascinating read from cover to cover.”
“Bees are amazing. That’s the first reason to read The Beekeeper’s Lament, journalist Hannah Nordhaus’s rewarding account of migratory beekeeping and the mysterious scourge stalking the domestic bee population… It’s metaphorical and poetic, elegiac and somehow sad.”
-Christian Science Monitor
“The Beekeeper’s Lament is at once science lesson, sociological study, and breezy read….A book about bees could easily descend into academe, but the author settles for nothing less than literature.”
“Nordhaus, an award-winning journalist, weaves a dramatic tale of how and why beehives and bees themselves are threatened by everything from mites to moths to bee thieves.”
“The book is a rich mix of head and heart.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Echoing Rachel Carson’s 1962 attack on the effects of pesticides, Silent Spring, Nordhaus explores this fascinating subject, providing long overdue recognition to the beekeeper and their task as stewards of a species.”
“A fascinating peek into the precarious business of keeping the nation’s crops pollinated.”
“Some of the best narrative and storytelling I’ve had the pleasure of reading since Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks...You must read this book.”
-Maggie Koerth-Baker, Boing Boing
“A remarkable book….Nordhaus uses a somber, lyrical writing style to make bees into just about the most fascinating subject you’ve ever encountered while at the same time crafting an elegiac metaphor for the contingency of modern American life.”
“A graceful, informative, and engaging book.”
“Her book is extraordinary in its breadth and depth, and most of all, it is exquisitely written….The Beekeeper’s Lament offers us a fascinating peek into the diverse, interrelated, and worrisome aspects of the beekeeper’s world....Enjoyable and enlightening.”
“A crackerjack story…the author struck gold….Nordhaus is a lively writer who…ably conveys the economics of the trade…and is just as able to describe the romance and miracle of honey….A smooth-as-honey tour d’horizon of the raggedy world of beekeeping.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“In this revelatory, bittersweet investigation into the state of commercial beekeeping in the 21st century, Nordhaus follows the migratory life of a commercial beekeeper, John Miller, as he trucks his bees between California and North Dakota...and, against all odds, keep[s] his bees and his business alive.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Miller is a complex and colorful man, and his story, along with the story of the bees, is an engaging read.”
“Highly recommended as both a character study and a compelling popular science work for interested readers.”
“This book is a terrific read.”
-American Bee Journal
“I loved The Beekeeper’s Lament. With great reporting and great writing, Hannah Nordhaus gives a new angle on an ever-evolving topic. You’ll learn a lot.”
-Bernd Heinrich, author of Winter World and Mind of the Raven
“Hannah Nordhaus has written an engaging account of the men and insects who put food on our tables. The Beekeeper’s Lament is a sweet, sad story.”
-Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe
“Rollicking, buzzing, and touching meditation on mortality....You’ll never think of bees, their keepers, or the fruits (and nuts) of their labors the same way again.”
-Trevor Corson, author of The Secret Life of Lobsters and The Story of Sushi