I reviewed this book once before—last spring—in the frenzy of bee season when beekeepers were too busy splitting colonies and catching swarms to read much of anything. But now you have no excuse: it’s time to read this book.
Hives in the City by Alison Gillespie is not a how-to-book. In fact, Gillispie is not a beekeeper at all, but an avid gardener who didn’t like the taste of honey. She was fond of the pollinators in her yard and became concerned about reports of Colony Collapse Disorder. Then too, she was fascinated by the sudden appearance of beehives in her suburban neighborhood.
So she set out to learn the science behind the news reports and to answer the question, “What drives someone to invite thousands of stinging insects to their garden, their balcony, [and] their rooftop?” Like a true investigative reporter, Gillespie spent a year attending beekeeper meetings and workshops, following urban beekeepers to their treasured hives, and learning the science behind the lingo.
In Hives in the City, Gillespie reports her findings, but interspersed with the facts is an intriguing story about beekeepers, their personalities, quirks, philosophies, and motivations. The in-depth interviews are compelling, making the 300 pages fly by at lightning speed. Gillespie has a knack for finding the spark in each of her subjects and the skill to bring that spark to life. Her writing is humorous, prescient, and gracious.
Although the beekeepers in the book are primarily from the East Coast, they could be from anywhere because the relationship between beekeeper and bee is universal. The book offers an intriguing look at how beekeepers, especially urban ones, cope with landscapes, laws, and attitudes that are often antagonistic to the idea of stinging insects. Best, it offers a heartwarming glimpse into the bond between mankind and bees.
Oh . . . one thing I didn’t mention last time: You will also get to read about my friend Bill Castro in Maryland and—ahem, all modesty aside here—you get to read about me:)
So go for it . . . and tell me what you think!
Get the softcover edition here: *Hives in the City: Keeping Honey Bees Alive in an Urban World
Get the Kindle edition here: *Hives in the City: Keeping Honey Bees Alive in an Urban World
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