Title: The Beekeeper’s Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America
Author: Hannah Nordhaus
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
John Miller is a beekeeper for hire, moving his bees around the country to pollinate America’s farms. But being a beekeeper in modern day American isn’t easy; John must struggle on a daily basis to keep his hardworking bees going. From disease to pesticides, bees are astonishingly fragile and must face innumerable hardships in order to keep going.
In The Beekeeper’s Lament, Hannah Nordhaus presents the plight of today’s beekeepers through the charming and likeable John Miller. Nordhaus picked an excellent person through which to tell her story; he gives the story a personal face. Without him, it would be hard to relate to what Nordhaus has to say and to understand how it affects real people. With him, this book becomes a glimpse into a completely foreign profession that faces increasing challenges as the years progress.
Nordhaus makes it clear that, without beekeepers and their bees, the agricultural industry in this country (and around the world) would come to a standstill. Yet bees are increasingly dying off in droves, and it’s becoming harder to make a living as a beekeeper. Nordhaus presents the plight of these men and women, without whom we wouldn’t have produce in our grocery stores every day, incredibly well. Beekeeping is a passion; it has to be, with all the difficulties that plague today’s professional beekeepers.
But The Beekeeper’s Lament isn’t just about the people who own the hives; it’s about the bees themselves, amazingly industrious and resilient workers. Nordhaus chronicles problem after problem that these little critters face, and as the reader progresses, they come to appreciate bees more and more. It’s amazing that they haven’t been pushed into extinction, with all they have had to face. Just as the beekeepers work incredibly hard for their bees, the bees pay that back in kind.
Even if you know nothing about bees, The Beekeeper’s Lament is a fascinating story. Hannah Nordhaus is a talented author, and she does an incredible job balancing the many different aspects of this novel - John Miller’s story, those of the beekeepers, the history of bees, and the threats these creatures must face. Her prose is engaging and easy to read. Despite the fact that this is a quick read, it’s jam-packed with information and will engross the reader from beginning to end. If you’re looking for your next non-fiction read, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.