On the Honey Trail with Eva Crane

bee scientist

Trained as a nuclear physicist, world renowned bee expert Eva Crane is easily one of the most intriguing and accomplished figures who have found their way onto the Land Library’s shelves. Her sudden shift from quantums to bees came on the occasion of her wedding in 1942. Among the wedding presents that day was a working beehive — a thoughtful gift meant to help the young couple cope with stingy wartime sugar rations. That it did, but it also set Eva on a lifelong fascination with bees, beekeeping and honey hunting.

encyclopedia

For the next fifty years Eva Crane visited over sixty countries on the trail of the honey bee. Her travels yielded over 180 papers, articles and books, culminating in The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting (pictured above), a hefty tome that Paul Theroux called a masterpiece “for its enormous scope and exhaustiveness, and for being an up-to-date treasure house of apiaristic facts.

Eva Crane’s passion and dedication went beyond her own work. She founded one of the leading institutions of the beekeeping world, the International Bee Research Association. After her death in 2007, the IBRA published a special tribute to its founder, Eva Crane Bee Scientist, 1912-2007, the latest (but hopefully not the last) Eva Crane volume added to the Land Library’s shelves!

eva & hivearchaeologysmall
As this black & white photo shows, though scholarly by nature, Eva Crane was no stranger to the intricate workings of the hive. Also pictured above are two classic works by Crane: The Archaeology of Beekeeping (1983) and Bees and Beekeeping: Science, Practice and World Resources (1990).

rock artb&w eva photo
And here’s the very first Eva Crane book the Land Library was lucky enough to find. We were in search of good books on rock art to add to our collection, and, lo and behold, in a dusty bookshop in New York’s Lower East Side we came upon Eva Crane’s The Rock Art of Honey Hunters, a fascinating study of over 150 sites across the globe!

For more on honey hunting, take a look at one of our earlier posts:

The Ancient Art of Honey Hunting

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Parlez vous francais?

cover

Well, if you don’t speak French, no worries — read on! Recently, a Land Library friend donated one of the most remarkable books on bees and beekeeping that we have ever seen. Eric Tourneret’s Le Peuple des Abeilles will always have an honored place on the Land Library’s shelves!

The text may be in French, but Tourneret’s photographs speak volumes. Many of the photos give such an upclose view of the bee’s world that you’d swear Tourneret strapped cameras to the backs of worker bees:

incoming

A steady stream of incoming bees, with pollen baskets full.

In some ways our personal inability to read the text liberated us to focus on the incredible patterns of another world:

comb

Eric Tourneret also turns his lens on an equally fascinating creature: the beekeeper:

french beekeeper

Le Peuple des Abeilles tells the tale of beekeepers employing both modern and traditional techniques. There are wonderful photo-essays on the capture of wild swarms, and the never-say-die efforts of urban beekeepers — including a few atop the Paris Opera House!

Eric Tourneret has seen a hidden world through his lens, and we’re happy he shared it:

eric large

If you don’t speak French, or if you someday hope to speak Bee, you’ll really enjoy this short clip!

Someday we hope a publisher issues an English translation of Le Peuple des Abeilles — but then again, we have loved the visual odyssey we’ve been on, unaccompanied by words!
fields

A Teachable Moment

keeping  beesbees in city

The surge of excellent bee book continues! Here’s two of the best, both from Great Britain, and both focused on the special challenges of beekeeping in the midst of busy city life: Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities by Luke Dixon, and Bees in the City: The Urban Beekeepers Handbook by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum.

So, here’s a question inspired by Luke Dixon’s Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities: What would you do if a swarm of bees descended upon your local school??

Small children and bees might not seem an obvious combination, but at Charlton Manor Primary in Greenwich they get on very well. The bees live in hives in the playground of this inner-city London school….

The headmaster, Tim Baker, took up beekeeping when a swarm came and attached itself to a wall next to the school’s main entrance. ‘There was panic from staff and calls to close the school,’ he recalls. ‘The children seemed very interested though. When it was collected I found out that the bees were very unlikely to sting when they swarm. I realized how little I and people around me knew about bees even though we had always taught the children that they were important. I was concerned that the lessons the children had got from that close-hand observation of the swarm was that bees were something to be feared.’ To dispel the message of fear, Tim set about finding training for himself and interested staff so that they could set up a hive on the school grounds.

The Next Generation of Beekeepers on Parade:

beekeepers on parade

There are many flowering plants in neighboring gardens, and there are parks nearby as well, so the bees are not short of forage. As an inner city school many of the pupils do not have access to gardens themselves, so the bees provide an important contact with nature for them….The headmaster is convinced that the bees are of great educational benefit: ‘There are a number of children with behavior issues in the school. They were given the chance to work with the bees. Their behavior has greatly improved and they delivered a talk to the local bee club at its annual general meeting.

Somehow, Bees Aren’t as Scary Anymore:

kids & honey

The school started with one hive, raised queens, and now has two colonies. The honey harvested is bottled by the pupils and sold to raise money for the school.

As a nice bookend to this story, headmaster Tim Baker reports that another swarm arrived recently and everyone took it in stride. Two of the children helped collect the swarm, and the school’s hives grew by one!

There’s a magic about bees — especially their way of connecting people to the natural world. It’s as simple as that. As long as we’re able, the Land Library will honor these books by giving them a home on our shelves. Here’s two more brilliant bee books we’ve added over the past few months:

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Bees: A Natural History, by Christopher O’Toole, and from our Waterton Canyon Kids Nature Library, Honey Bees: Letters from the Hive by Stephen Buchmann, an excellent book for young adults, and older readers too.

Small, Profound, and Citywide!

rooftop large

Here’s the latest addition to the Land Library’s bee & beekeeping collection: Megan Paska’s The Rooftop Beekeeper: A Scrappy Guide to Keeping Urban Honeybees, a perfect introduction to this ancient art, full of great photos and wonderful drawings. Megan Paska has learned her craft in Brooklyn, New York, and she shares lessons learned. Lesson such as this:

…in this book I focus on ‘minimally invasive’ hive management practices. I believe that bees know more about how to be bees than we do. To my mind, facilitating their long-term survival takes precedence over increasing their usefulness as pollinators or producers of a high-value commodity like honey.

author

…cities can actually be some of the best places to keep a few hives. Unlike keepers living in rural towns, we city dwellers don’t have to worry about pesticides from conventional farms spraying their fields. Rooftop hives also get ample sun and dry out faster after heavy rains; the ability to more easily regulate temperature and humidity means bees with fewer diseases. But more important, at least from my point of view, urban apiaries give city dwellers an opportunity to commune with the natural world in a small but very profound way.” — Megan Paska, from The Rooftop Beekeeper.

No wonder we can’t resist books on bees and beekeeping!

Here’s a couple more from the Land Library’s shelves:
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Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee by Lisa Jean Moore and Mary Kosut, The Urban Beekeeper: A Year of Bees in the City by Steve Benbow, the practical diary of a beekeeper and his 30 beeyard sites, spread across London, England.

And, from an earlier post, here’s the most beautiful bee book we’ve seen:

Eric Tourneret’s Le Peuple des Abeilles (with a great film clip too).

The Ultimate Partnership

procterxerces

Consider this: about 75% of all flowering plants rely on pollination to set seed or fruit, and from these plants comes one-third of the human diet. This Monday marks the beginning of Pollinator Week, an international effort to focus on the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations.

Pollinators positively effect our lives and the life of the entire planet. The invaluable ecosystem services they provide are eloquently told in the classic book, The Natural History of Pollination by Michael Proctor, Peter Yeo, and Andrew Lack (originally part of the legendary British book series, The New Naturalists). This well-illustrated book describes all the ways in which pollination occurs: wind, water, birds, bats, insects, even mice.

Over the last few years, there have been many books addressing the worldwide decline of pollinator species, and few better than the Xerces Society Guide, Attracting Native Pollinators. Over eighty species of native pollinators are introduced (including bees, flies, butterflies, wasps, and moths). Detailed instruction is also given on how to create flowering habitat to encourage pollinator populations.

Pollination is an amazingly intricate dance between plant and animal, brought to us by the timeless patience of evolution. Here’s a few more Land Library volumes celebrating this natural everyday miracle of life:

alternativeforgotten
Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers, and Conservationists by Eric Mader, Marla Spivak, and Elaine Evans (a full-color guide for rearing and managing bumble bees, leafcutter bees, and other species that provide pollination alternatives to the declining honey bee), and The Forgotten Pollinators by Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan, a now-classic book that was among the first to focus on the importance of a wide diversity of pollinators: bees, beetles, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, bats, and many more.

Sherian Wright has written an excellent guide to one such alternative pollinator, full of tips on how to create a friendly habitat that will encourage the mason bee’s free services:

mason bees
Mason Bees for the Backyard Gardener by Sherian A. Wright.

There’s many ways to celebrate Pollinator Week, and many ways to support their survival throughout the year. Here’s one way that we especially love — a San Francisco neighborhood that transformed a vacant city lot into a Pollinator Garden:

For much more on the positive contributions of pollinators, please visit the very informative Pollinator Partnership website, where you can download or order:

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Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees by Beatriz Moissett and Stephen Buchmann. This slender 40-page booklet is one of the best introductions we’ve seen to the hidden world of North America’s native bees. Beautifully illustrated too!

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A great week to take time to learn more — and to find ways you can help our pollinator partners!

City Wild, and a few of our favorite books!

The citizen takes his city for granted far too often. He forgets to marvel.” — Carlos Fuentes

Good news! The Land Library continues to work toward opening a Urban Homestead Library in inner-city Denver, along with our second Kids and Educators Nature Library. We’ve been devoting more and more of our resources to find some of the best urban nature books available. These books are wonderful tools, and a powerful remedy for ever taking your home town for granted!

Books such as these, that help you learn about:

BIRDS, BEES…

lindobenbow

AND TREES!

stroudtree book

NEW NEIGHBORS…

chickensgoats

FOOD…

permacultureedible

and PLENTY OF FUN PLACES TO EXPLORE!

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For the rest of this month, we’ll be featuring many more books on nature in the city — all leading up to the April 27th Colorado premiere of the award-winning film The Legend of Pale Male:

movie posterbloomsbury cover

The Land Library is proud to be a co-sponsor of this benefit screening for The Bloomsbury Review, a national literary treasure that has been celebrating and promoting great writing since 1980. We’ll be celebrating two legends that night — The Bloomsbury Review, as it launches into its next chapter, and Pale Male, the famous red-tailed hawk of Central Park, now courting his eighth mate somewhere over midtown Manhattan!

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday, April 27th, 6:30pm at Denver’s Montview Presbyterian Church

For more information on the April 27th premiere, call 303-455-3123, or 800-783-3338, or visit The Bloomsbury Review website!

We hope you enjoy this inspiring film clip!

Parlez vous francais?

cover

Well, if you don’t speak French, no worries — read on! Recently, a Land Library friend from Quebec donated one of the most remarkable books on bees and beekeeping that we have ever seen. Eric Tourneret’s Le Peuple des Abeilles will always have an honored place on the Land Library’s shelves!

The text may be in French, but Tourneret’s photographs speak volumes. Many of the photos give such an upclose view of the bee’s world that you’d swear Tourneret strapped cameras to the backs of worker bees:

incoming

A steady stream of incoming bees, with pollen baskets full.

In some ways our personal inability to read the text liberated us to focus on the incredible patterns of another world:

comb

Eric Tourneret also turns his lens on an equally fascinating creature: the beekeeper:

french beekeeper

Le Peuple des Abeilles tells the tale of beekeepers employing both modern and traditional techniques. There are wonderful photo-essays on the capture of wild swarms, and the never-say-die efforts of urban beekeepers — including a few atop the Paris Opera House!

Eric Tourneret has seen a hidden world through his lens, and we’re happy he shared it:

eric large

If you don’t speak French, or if you someday hope to speak Bee, you’ll really enjoy this short clip!

Someday we hope a publisher issues an English translation of Le Peuple des Abeilles — but then again, we loved the visual odyssey we’ve been on, ever since Eric Tourneret’s classic book arrived from our generous friend in Quebec!
fields

One of the first pieces the Land Library ever posted was on the great French entomologist, J. Henri Fabre. We have no doubt that he would have loved Le Peuple des Abeilles as much as we do:

–The Insect Man

and for more great books on Bees and Beekeeping, be sure to check our archive!