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Following the Wild Bees:
The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting
Thomas D. Seeley

Honorable Mention for the 2017 PROSE Award in Popular Science and Popular Mathematics, Association of American Publishers

Hardcover | 2016 | $22.95 | £18.95 | ISBN: 9780691170268
184 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 50 color illus. 5 halftones. 1 line illus.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400880331 |
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Following the Wild Bees is a delightful foray into the pastime of bee hunting, an exhilarating outdoor activity that used to be practiced widely but which few people know about today. Thomas Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, vividly describes the history and science behind this lost pastime and how anyone can do it. Following the Wild Bees is both a unique meditation on the pleasures of the natural world and a guide to the ingenious methods that compose the craft of the bee hunter.

Seeley explains how one finds a patch of flowers humming with honey bees, captures and sumptuously feeds the bees, and then releases and follows them, step-by-step in whatever direction they fly, back to their secret residence in a hollow tree, old building, or abandoned hive. The bee hunter's reward is a thrilling encounter with nature that challenges mind and body while also giving new insights into the remarkable behavior of honey bees living in the wild.

Drawing on decades of experience as a bee hunter and bee biologist, Seeley weaves informative discussions of the biology of wild honey bees with colorful historical anecdotes, personal insights, and beautiful photos. Whether you're a bee enthusiast or just curious about the natural world, Following the Wild Bees is the ideal companion for newcomers to bee hunting and a rare treat for armchair naturalists.

Thomas D. Seeley is the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell University. He is the author of Honeybee Democracy and Honeybee Ecology (both Princeton) and The Wisdom of the Hive. He lives in Ithaca, New York.


"Seeley's passion for the social insects blazes as he quotes historical accounts by Henry David Thoreau and describes the intricacies of the chase, from baiting with anise-scented sugar syrup to patiently amassing location data"--Barb Kiser, Nature

"Seeley has been studying honeybees in the wild for decades and in the course of his research has made something of an art of finding--and leaving undisturbed--feral colonies. That he's had a grand time doing so is abundantly clear in this slim volume. . . . [Seeley] shares his research accessibly and generously along with his enthusiasm."--Kirkus

"This charming story will pull you into the action and make you feel like an intrepid bee hunter without ever leaving your living room chair."--HoneyBeeSuite

"Following the Wild Bees introduced me to a new activity. If you've ever wondered how beekeepers find new wild hives, this book explains it all. This is a must-have book for all beekeepers and bee lovers."--Scott Shalaway, Youngstown (OH) Vindicator

"In addition to serving as a primer on the behavior and biology of honeybees, Following the Wild Bees just might give readers an intellectually (and physically) stimulating new outdoor activity."--The Scientist

"Anyone deeply interested in natural history will ignore this mad little volume at their peril."--Simon Ings, New Scientist

"This game has been on my ‘to-do' list since reading Donovan's book on the subject a decade or so ago. Tom has now given me the interest and enthusiasm to get out and do it!"--Chris Slade's Bee Blog

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Table of Contents:

Preface ix
1. Introduction 1
2. The Bee Box and Other Tools 30
3. Bee-Hunting Season 44
4. Establishing a Beeline 57
5. Timing Bees to Estimate Distance to Home 79
6. Making Moves Down the Beeline 99
7. Finding the Bee Tree 118
8. On Not “Taking Up” the Bee Tree 138
Notes 151
References 157
Illustration Credits 161
Index 163

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Thomas D. Seeley:


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    File created: 9/7/2017

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