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The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America Paperback – May 24, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006187325X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061873256
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A fascinating read from cover to cover.” (Associated Press)

“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.” (Boston Globe)

“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.” (Washington Post)

“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.” (Financial Times)

“A fascinating peek into the precarious business of keeping the nation’s crops pollinated.” (Smithsonian)

“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.” (The Millions)

“A graceful, informative, and engaging book.” (Hill Rag)

“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.” (AlterNet)

“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.” (Booklist)

“Highly recommended as both a character study and a compelling popular science work for interested readers.” (Library Journal)

“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)

From the Back Cover

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.


More About the Author

Hannah Nordhaus is author of The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America, published by Harper Perennial in May 2011. The book, which was a PEN Center USA and Colorado Book Award Finalist and a national bestseller, is a non-fiction portrait of an unusual fourth-generation beekeeper who travels the West with 10,000 beehives, making honey, pollinating crops, and struggling to keep his bees alive in the middle of a strange and sobering honey bee die-off.

Hannah's writing has appeared in the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, Outside Magazine, Ski Magazine, High Country News, The Village Voice, and many other publications. From 2007 to 2009, she was also outdoors columnist for the Denver Rocky Mountain News.

Her articles have covered litigious prostitutes in Montana; snorkeling salmon-counters in Idaho; the underground history of a dismantled nuclear weapons facility near Denver; wildlife crime investigators in Oregon; a personal history of New Mexico's San Juan Basin natural gas fields; and profiles of dildo-art thieves and dog-doo GPS-mappers in Boulder, Colorado.

A historian by training, she has conducted extensive oral histories with employees of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C., with Cold-War era citizens of Roswell, New Mexico, and with federal judges and nuclear-plant workers in Colorado.

She lives in Boulder with two children, one husband, and zero beehives.

Customer Reviews

Well worth reading, and very well written.
Susan L. Carrier
Hannah Nordhaus introduces us to the world of bee wrangling with humor, details, and effortless prose.
Elisabeth Emily
Great read for anyone interested in beekeeping and the wellbeing of our planet!
EnlightenedSurfer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Marla Spivak on May 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Throughout this book, I kept exclaiming, "Yes! That is how it is." Hannah Nordhaus has managed to capture the special relationship between bees and beekeepers and the stresses both are experiencing. In the end we come to understand that keeping bees alive and healthy is not easy. Some people are quick to point a finger at commercial beekeepers as the culprits behind bee losses. But all beekeepers care deeply for their bees. Norhaus clearly portrays how beekeepers face a deal with the devil when they move their bees into orchards and other crops for pollination. Everyone that eats almonds, fruits and vegetables needs to understand this vital and ironic situation.

Nordhaus walks us into the world of bees through the eyes and heart of John Miller, a commercial beekeeper who transports his 10,000 colonies of bees between North Dakota and California for honey production and almond pollination. John is wacky, inspired and earth-smart, and he is the perfect person to represent beekeepers in America. The book is hilarious, disturbing, and very accurate; it's the best book about beekeeping I've read in a very long time.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Joe Traynor on May 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A timely and informative book suitable for a wide readership. It could be subtitled The Life and Times of John Miller, Commercial Beekeeper. Miller is a character and his presence breathes life throughout the pages of the book -- Nordhaus must have realized she had a gem in Miller, around which she could build a worthy and entertaining book. Miller is descended from a long line of beekeepers and struggles annually, as do all beekeepers, to keep his thousands of colonies healthy as they face drought, disease and pestilence on a number of fronts. Nordhaus expertly weaves the history of beekeeping into her book -- beekeeping has never been easy, and is far more difficult today than for past generations. All successful beekeepers are hard workers or they wouldn't survive and Miller is no exception. Miller is an atypical beekeeper in that he is gregarious, quirky, smart (both street-smart and book-smart), with an off-beat sense of humor that helps him survive the inevitable mishaps that occur in his profession.
Highly recommneded whether you know anything about bees or not.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elisabeth Emily on May 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Beekeepers Lament is a fantastic and engaging story chronicling the life and times of American bees and their keepers. Hannah Nordhaus introduces us to the world of bee wrangling with humor, details, and effortless prose. She is truly a great story teller conveying complex concepts and huge amounts of detail on bee culture, the history of beekeeping in America, the anatomy of the hive, and the pests and calamities befall bees and their keepers with ease and flow. The portrait of John Miller's migratory world of bee keeping is a phenomenal new view into commercial agriculture and its symbiotic relationship with hundreds of millions of bees traversing the country every year. He is an unforgettable character and the reader is able to fully appreciate the life and culture of the commercial beekeeping community.

A great read and you will will never look at a buzzing bee the same way again!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on January 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
Since 2007, honey bee hives all over the world have emptied out as their inhabitants inexplicably vanished. "In the last half decade, a third of the national [U.S.] bee herd--about a million colonies--has died each year, often under mysterious circumstances."

We are almost totally dependent on honey bees and their human keepers to pollinate our almond trees, cantaloupes, blueberries, citrus trees, bell peppers, sunflowers, etc., etc. If it's a fruit, seed, nut, or vegetable, a bee is probably responsible for bringing it into being--and these hard-working pollinators are trucked back and forth by their keepers across the United States when their services are needed. There are very few wild honey bee colonies. Maybe none. "The millions of acres of intensely and singularly planted crops at the center of the American agribusiness machine simply cannot produce without the help of the beekeepers' pollinating army."

According to author Hannah Nordhaus, bees have been a hot topic ever since the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) caused hives to empty out overnight. But honey bees were in trouble long before they started their 'flight of the living dead.' In this amiable, but ultimately sad and scary book, the reader also learns about varroa mites, wax moths, foulbrood, and PPB ('piss-poor beekeeping'): "Bees have been on life support for decades now, kept aloft only by the efforts of determined--perhaps imprudent--men" like the beekeepers who are featured in this book.

Beekeepers (bee guys) are vanishing almost as fast as their bees. It's a tough profession that requires protective suits, smokers, tons of corn syrup, a high pain threshold, plus semis, forklifts, and other utilitarian vehicles.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By k24 on June 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
the Beekeeper's Lament by Hannah Nordhaus brings together all the elements we have been seeing and not reacting to!
I was taught beekeeping as a child and her book re-awakened my desire to use this knowledge,become a woman beekeeper and teach my children.Her book is essential,well-written,full of historical anecdotes,facts and all kinds of info and you will become attached to John Miller and bees!Why can't we all be more flexible and have a hive or 2?Worth reading and should be in all school libraries and part of school curriculum!Thanks Hannah!
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