BUZZ: The Nature and Necessity of Bees

Posted March 22, 2019 at 1:47 pm by

Grif­fin Bay Book­store is proud to announce that San Juan Island author, Thor Han­son, author of The Tri­umph of Seeds and Feath­ers, has won his third Pacif­ic North­west Book­sellers Asso­ci­a­tion award, receiv­ing the 2019 PNBA award for BUZZ: The Nature and Neces­si­ty of Bees. 

Please join us at the San Juan Island Library when Grif­fin Bay Book­store presents the prize to Thor Han­son on Wednes­day, March 27, 7:00 pm. Fol­low­ing the award pre­sen­ta­tion, Thor will regale us by talk­ing about BUZZ and all things bees.

From hon­ey­bees and bum­bles to less­er-known dig­gers, min­ers, leaf­cut­ters, and masons, bees have long been cen­tral to our har­vests, our mytholo­gies, and our very exis­tence. But for the past decade, resound­ing alarm about dwin­dling bee pop­u­la­tions has often seemed to drown out the hum­ming of the bees them­selves. We know bees are spe­cial, but few of us can say much about why. 

In BUZZ: The Nature and Neces­si­ty of Bees, con­ser­va­tion biol­o­gist and win­ner of the 2019 PNBA award, Thor Han­son takes us on a jour­ney that begins 125 mil­lion years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young. Evolv­ing along­side flow­ers, bees drove the vast array of flo­ral col­ors, shapes, and scents that pop­u­late our landscapes.

The human inter­ac­tion with bees took root deep in our pre­his­to­ry, when ear­ly hominins sought out the sug­ary blast of hon­ey at every oppor­tu­ni­ty. Bees helped spark an agri­cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tion, as we car­ried hives from field to field from the Ancient Nile to Europe to rur­al Amer­i­ca. They enabled advances in med­i­cine and indus­try, and have giv­en us cru­cial insights into every­thing from deci­sion-mak­ing to addic­tion to architecture.

To know the bee isn’t just to under­stand a fas­ci­nat­ing and beau­ti­ful insect: it is to glimpse a pro­found web of rela­tion­ships, great and small, that binds togeth­er the human and the nat­ur­al worlds.

As he criss­cross­es the con­ti­nent to inter­view the lead­ing researchers, farm­ers, and bee­keep­ers, Han­son reveals the won­der that comes from study­ing bees up close. He starts at The Bee Course, a work­shop for con­ser­va­tion biol­o­gists taught by the emi­nent bee expert and Amer­i­can Nat­ur­al His­to­ry Muse­um cura­tor Jer­ry Rozen.

Lat­er he inter­views nutri­tion­al anthro­pol­o­gist Alyssa Crit­ten­don, whose work has trans­formed our under­stand­ing of the role of hon­ey in the diet of ear­ly humans, and Seán Brady, a Smith­son­ian researcher study­ing the com­plex social orga­ni­za­tion of bees.

Weav­ing togeth­er cul­ture, sci­ence, and his­to­ry, Han­son sets the stage for under­stand­ing the mod­ern plight of bees, from pes­ti­cides and colony col­lapse to cli­mate change. In the book’s final sec­tion, he accom­pa­nies pol­li­na­tor spe­cial­ist Eric Lee-Mäder on a vis­it to a Cal­i­for­nia almond grow­er who is work­ing to reha­bil­i­tate local bees. As Han­son explains, in recent years sci­en­tists have made strides in under­stand­ing the threats faced by bees. Almost mirac­u­lous­ly, these remark­able insects seem to be recep­tive when seri­ous efforts are made to revive them.

About the Author

Thor Han­son — Con­tributed photo

Thor Han­son is a con­ser­va­tion biol­o­gist and Guggen­heim Fel­low. He has stud­ied Cen­tral Amer­i­can trees and song­birds, nest pre­da­tion in Tan­za­nia, and the gris­ly feed­ing habits of African vul­tures. His pre­vi­ous books include The Tri­umph of Seeds, which won the Phi Beta Kap­pa Award and the Pacif­ic North­west Book award, and Feath­ers, which won numer­ous awards includ­ing the 2013 John Bur­roughs Medal and the 2012 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excel­lence in Sci­ence Writing.

PNBA

The Pacif­ic North­west Book­sellers Asso­ci­a­tion is a trade asso­ci­a­tion of independent

book­sellers, pub­lish­ers, authors, and librar­i­ans, and just recent­ly announced the win­ners of the 2019 North­west Book Awards. The awards are select­ed by a com­mit­tee of inde­pen­dent book­sellers from Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Ida­ho, Mon­tana, and Alas­ka. From more than 400 nom­i­na­tions writ­ten or illus­trat­ed by cre­ators from the Pacif­ic North­west and pub­lished in 2018, the com­mit­tee chose six recip­i­ents, one of whom was Thor Hanson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pacif­ic North­west Book­sellers Asso­ci­a­tion, a trade asso­ci­a­tion of inde­pen­dent book­sellers, pub­lish­ers, authors, and librar­i­ans, announced the win­ners of the 2019 North­west Book Awards. The awards are select­ed by a com­mit­tee of inde­pen­dent book­sellers from Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Ida­ho, Mon­tana, and Alas­ka. From more than 400 nom­i­na­tions writ­ten or illus­trat­ed by cre­ators from the Pacif­ic North­west and pub­lished in 2018, the com­mit­tee chose six recip­i­ents, one of whom was Thor Hanson.

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