Review Blog

Sep 18 2018

The honey factory by Jurgen Tautz and Diedrich Steen

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Black Inc Books, 2018. ISBN 9781760640408
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Recommended. Non-fiction. The subtitle 'Inside the ingenious world of bees' describes exactly what this book is about - not so much a guide to beekeeping but a detailed exploration of what bees do and how their community works. And it is absolutely fascinating! Tautz and Steen reveal to us the workings of the intelligent bee superorganism - a community of individuals dependent on one another and working together to make a single breathing, living entity. Each bee has its role to play - the queen, the drones, the workers; there are nurse bees and field bees, guards, scouts and foragers. Tautz and Steen reveal to us how they communicate in the pitch darkness of the hive, how they regulate the temperature of the hive, how they communicate food sources with the waggle dance, and what leads them to swarm or move house.
The two authors make different contributions to the book - Steen is a long time beekeeper and Tautz is a renowned bee researcher. So the book is a combination of practical knowledge and scientific research, distinguished in the text by different fonts. It is possible for readers wanting a 'lighter' approach to just read the Steen contributions, whilst others may enjoy the insights offered by the experiments and studies that Tautz describes. There is a logical sequence to the book; however an index is available at the end for quick reference.
The last chapter describes the bees' struggle for survival - extinction remains a probability, and sadly the main threats are from human factors. Anyone reading this book must hope for greater understanding and appreciation of bees for it truly seems that they offer us an insight into an amazing community based on unconditional and mutual sharing, something that humans could only learn from.
Helen Eddy

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