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Bees Paperback – September 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

About the Author

Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) became a respected and well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, particularly known for his work on Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his earlier philosophical principles into an approach to methodical research of psychological and spiritual phenomena. His multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, philosophy, religion, education (Waldorf schools), special education (the Camphill movement), economics, agriculture (biodynamics), science, architecture, and the arts (drama, speech and eurythmy). In 1924 he founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which has branches throughout the world.

Gunther Hauk is director of the Pfeiffer Center, a biodynamic research center sponsored by Threefold Educational Foundation and Sunbridge College, Spring Valley, N.Y. He started a training program in biodynamic gardening there in 1996. He has worked with bees since 1975 and has been a beekeeper since 1980. He gives workshops throughout the United States on the plight of the honey-bee.

David Adams holds a Ph.D in art history education and has taught art history at state universities and art schools for eight years. He has written numerous published articles, essays, and art exhibition booklets. He is currently an adjunct faculty in art history at Sierra College, director of the Center for Architecture & Design Research, and a freelance writer and editor.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Steiner Books; New edition edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880104570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880104579
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rudolf Steiner (Feb. 27, 1861-Mar. 30, 1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austria (now in Croatia) in 1861 and died in Dornach, Switzerland in 1925. In university, he concentrated on mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Having written his thesis on philosophy, Steiner earned his doctorate and was later drawn into literary and scholarly circles and participated in the rich social and political life of Vienna.

During the 1890s, Steiner worked for seven years in Weimar at the Goethe archive, where he edited Goethe's scientific works and collaborated in a complete edition of Schopenhauer's work. Weimar was a center of European culture at the time, which allowed Steiner to meet many prominent artists and cultural figures. In 1894 Steiner published his first important work, Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom, now published as one of the Classics in Anthroposophy.

When Steiner left Weimar, he went to Berlin where he edited an avant-garde literary magazine. Again he involved himself in the rich, rapidly changing culture of a city that had become the focus of many radical groups and movements. Steiner gave courses on history and natural science and offered practical training in public speaking. He refused to adhere to the particular ideology of any political group, which did not endear him to the many activists then in Berlin.

In 1899, Steiner's life quickly began to change. His autobiography provides a personal glimpse of his inner struggles, which matured into an important turning point. In the August 28, 1899 issue of his magazine, Steiner published the article "Goethe's Secret Revelation" on the esoteric nature of Goethe's fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. Consequently, Steiner was invited to speak to a gathering of Theosophists. This was his first opportunity to act on a decision to speak openly and directly of his spiritual perception, which had quietly matured since childhood through inner development and discipline. Steiner began to speak regularly to theosophical groups, which upset and confused many of his friends. The respectable, if often radical scholar, historian, scientist, writer, and philosopher began to emerge as an "occultist." Steiner's decision to speak directly from his own spiritual research did not reflect any desire to become a spiritual teacher, feed curiosity, or to revive some ancient wisdom. It arose from his perception of what is needed for our time.

Rudolf Steiner considered it his task to survey the spiritual realities at work within the realms of nature and throughout the universe. He explored the inner nature of the human soul and spirit and their potential for further development; he developed new methods of meditation; he investigated the experiences of human souls before birth and after death; he looked back into the spiritual history and evolution of humanity and Earth; he made detailed studies of reincarnation and karma. After several years, Rudolf Steiner became increasingly active in the arts. It is significant that he saw the arts as crucial for translating spiritual science into social and cultural innovation. Today we have seen what happens when natural science bypasses the human heart and translates knowledge into technology without grace, beauty, or compassion. In 1913, the construction of the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland began. This extraordinary wooden building took shape gradually during the First World War. An international group of volunteers collaborated with local builders and artisans to shape the unique carved forms and structures designed by Steiner. Steiner viewed architecture as a servant of human life, and he designed the Goetheanum to support the work of anthroposophy drama and eurythmy in particular. The Goetheanum was burned to the ground on New Year's Eve, 1922 by an arsonist. Rudolf Steiner designed a second building, which was completed after his death. It is now the center for the Anthroposophical Society and its School of Spiritual Science.

After the end of World War I, Europe was in ruins and people were ready for new social forms. Attempts to realize Steiner's ideal of a "threefold social order" as a political and social alternative was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, its conceptual basis is even more relevant today. Steiner's social thinking can be understood only within the context of his view of history. In contrast to Marx, Steiner saw that history is shaped essentially by changes in human consciousness changes in which higher spiritual beings actively participate.

We can build a healthy social order only on the basis of insight into the material, soul, and spiritual needs of human beings. Those needs are characterized by a powerful tension between the search for community and the experience of the human I, or true individuality. Community, in the sense of material interdependence, is the essence of our world economy. Like independent thinking and free speech, the human I, or essential self, is the foundation of every creative endeavor and innovation, and crucial to the realization of human spirit in the arts and sciences.

Without spiritual freedom, culture withers and dies. Individuality and community are lifted beyond conflict only when they are recognized as a creative polarity rooted in basic human nature, not as contradictions. Each aspect must find the appropriate social expression. We need forms that ensure freedom for all expressions of spiritual life and promote community in economic life. The health of this polarity, however, depends on a full recognition of the third human need and function ó the social relationships that relate to our sense of human rights. Here again, Steiner emphasized the need to develop a distinct realm of social organization to support this sphere one inspired by the concern for equality that awakens as we recognize the spiritual essence of every human being. This is the meaning and source of our right to freedom of spirit and to material sustenance.

These insights are the basis of Steiner's responses to the needs of today, and have inspired renewal in many areas of modern life. Doctors, therapists, farmers, business people, academics, scientists, theologians, pastors, and teachers all approached him for ways to bring new life to their endeavors. The Waldorf school movement originated with a school for the children of factory employees at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory. Today, Waldorf schools are all over the world. There are homes, schools, and village communities for children and adults with special needs. Biodynamic agriculture began with a course of lectures requested by a group of farmers concerned about the destructive trend of "scientific" farming. Steiner's work with doctors led to a medical movement that includes clinics, hospitals, and various forms of therapeutic work. As an art of movement, eurythmy also serves educational and therapeutic work.

Rudolf Steiner spoke very little of his life in personal terms. In his autobiography, however, he stated that, from his early childhood, he was fully conscious of the invisible reality within our everyday world. He struggled inwardly for the first forty years of his life not to achieve spiritual experience but to unite his spiritual experiences with ordinary reality through the methods of natural science. Steiner saw this scientific era, even in its most materialistic aspects, as an essential phase in the spiritual education of humanity. Only by forgetting the spiritual world for a time and attending to the material world can new and essential faculties be kindled, especially the experience of true individual inner freedom.

During his thirties, Steiner awakened to an inner recognition of what he termed "the turning point in time" in human spiritual history. That event was brought about by the incarnation of the Christ. Steiner recognized that the meaning of that turning point in time transcends all differences of religion, race, or nation and has consequences for all of humanity. Rudolf Steiner was also led to recognize the new presence and activity of the Christ. It began in the twentieth century, not in the physical world, but in the etheric realm of the invisible realm of life forces of the Earth and humanity. Steiner wanted to nurture a path of knowledge to meet today's deep and urgent needs. Those ideals, though imperfectly realized, may guide people to find a continuing inspiration in anthroposophy for their lives and work. Rudolf Steiner left us the fruits of careful spiritual observation and perception (or, as he preferred to call it, spiritual research), a vision that is free and thoroughly conscious of the integrity of thinking and understanding inherent in natural science.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By John Little on September 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
When I read this book I was astonished that he wrote with such empathy for the bees. He also explains why the bees are disappearing and predicted there decline over a hundred years ago. He explained the benifits of formic acid and the connection of the bees, wasps and ants to our lives and the life of plants. He considers these animals as emotional and feeling and writes for all of them as such.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anna on March 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
You can read this book online for free at the web address [...]
It is a somewhat difficult but very sweet book.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By JKW on July 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Yes, this book is about bees. Yes, this book is more than just bees. If you are looking for detailed instructions on how to keep bees, perhaps another book would be more helpful. If you want to UNDERSTAND bees, read this book!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Evatt on December 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
If what you are looking for is an esoteric and, at times, biological/ecological insight into the realm of Bees, this book is perhaps the most comprehensive. I am aware of other books that also cover some of this material, although the authors are reiterating the late Steiner's work in their own words. One example, which I have not read, is Wisdom of the Bees. "Bees" by Rudolf Steiner may be the only book of its kind. At least it is the only one I am aware of in English.

It may be helpful to note that Steiner is not one to stick to a single train of thought or specialisation in his lectures. Exploring the subject of bees takes him and you, the reader, into a wide range of subjects pertaining to nature, insects, and human beings (mostly from an esoteric perspective). Reading this book you will be learning about far more than only bees.

I would describe the information in this book as high level info, rather than being pragmatic and instructional. As a few other reviewers have pointed out, if you are looking for instruction into natural or alternative methods of bee keeping this book will not be directly useful. You may like to check out Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture. If you simply want instruction on bee keeping in general (not necessarily "natural" approaches)
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Loftus on November 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with both 5 star and the 1 star reviewer: If you are looking for a book with practical information on non-industrial or organic beekeeping, Ross Conrad's "Natural Beekeeping" is your book, not this one. Steiner is a fascinating character and this book is basically a transcription of some chalkboard lectures he gave on bee ecology. Some of it seems pretty stream-of-consciousness and out there; I felt like I was reading the remarks of a "wild man" who'd come down off the mountain to describe some of his trippy insights into bees. For example, he discusses a sort of astrological connection between worker bees and the Sun, whose 21-day larval gestation correlates with the 21-day rotational period of the sun. However, the queen bee is supposedly fertile due to sun influence, although she gestates for only 16 days, and drones, who gestate over 22-24 days, are fertile due to earth influence. I don't really follow the logic here at all. It's mystical, and that's fine, but it's not really biology or science and for those of us who use a scientific framework (at least some of the time) that's a bit of a stumbling block. Steiner's critique of industrial beekeeping techniques leading eventually to population declines turned out to be spot-on and very accurate 100 years in advance, so he was right, although I can't tell from his reasoning how he knew. So, the book has merit, but NOT as a practical handbook on organic beekeeping.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J.C. on July 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
I got this book from the local library and found it very entertaining as well as thought provoking. I should say, in the spirit of disclosure, that I am a beekeeper and I make and sell honey. This book offers a philosophy of life and gives readers an inside view of how nature is constructed in so meticulous and perfect a way. I think that Steiner may have wanted readers to consider the ways of bees as a possible model for human behavior, how we could each be happy in our own role, and work to our fullest potential, according to the program that lies inside of each of us.

This is not an easy read but well worth the time. If you love bees, get this book please.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Allan on May 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in bees or is considering beekeeping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A.M.W. on May 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lets admit it, some of Steiner's books are really hard to read. Not this one. It is very enjoyable and gives a beautiful perspective into the lives of bees.

Highly recommended.
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