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Distributed for Reaktion Books


Claire Preston’s Bee tells the busy story of our long, complex relationship with this industrious, much-admired insect. Moving from ancient political descriptions to Renaissance debates about monarchy, to the conversion of the virtuous and civil bee into the dangerous swarm of the Hollywood horror flick, and finally to the melancholy recognition that the modern decline of the bee is due to our use of harmful pesticides and destruction of the bee’s habitat, this timely new edition could not arrive at a moment of greater buzz. Lively, engaging, and containing many fascinating bee facts, anecdotes, fables, and images, Bee is a sweeping, highly illustrated natural and cultural history of this familiar visitor to our gardens and parks. From beekeepers to anyone with an interest in bees’ intricate, miniature societies, to all of us who enjoy honey on our toast, the appeal of Preston’s exploration of how bees have woven themselves into the fabric of our culture is as expansive as the range and importance of these tiny workaholics themselves.

224 pages | 117 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4

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"Easily the best of several recent bee books. . . . Presents her information cogently and attractively . . . Bee is excellent."

James Fleming | Spectator

"Engaging. . . . An excellent example of how cultural history can entertainingly cross borders."

BBC History Magazine

"It is an outstanding book: marvellously researched and annotated, superbly illustrated and exceptionally well written. . . . Preston must have played the bee herself in her meticulous preparation for this book, and she has done this esteemed creature the great service it merits."

Times Literary Supplement

"The kind of book I was looking for when I started beekeeping, a general overview of bees as they have appeared in history, art, and society. Preston presents the true, the absurd and everything in between about honey bees by tracing their reality, mythology, and folklore. . . . fascinating. . . . I recommend . . .  sitting down to enjoy Preston’s new book Bee."

Cynthia Allen | Bee Culture

"With so many fascinating facts, fables and arcana from art, science, literature and apiculture, Bee offers a compelling meditation on the fortune’s of nature’s workaholic."

American Bee Journal

"Even the most widely read beekeeper will find something new here. . . . Most pages of this beautifully presented book have excellent and interesting illustrations. . . . It is a great book to read if you want to gain a wider perspective of bees’ role within our human society."

Bees for Development Journal

"Entomologists will enjoy reading this fascinating little book. . . . The pictures and print quality are excellent, and the book is packed with little gems."

Journal of the Entomological Society of America

"An entertaining and informative book that reveals the animals' richly storied past and present."

British Journal for the History of Science

"Wide-ranging. . . . A very readable account of how bees have been written about and portrayed over the centuries."

British Journal of Entomology and Natural History

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