Observed every September, National Honey Month was created to promote the American beekeeping industry and honey as a natural and beneficial sweetener. Humans are indebted to bees because of their essential role in pollination. Bees are directly and indirectly responsible for a third of our food supply. Honey is a pure and easily digested sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. Beeswax is an ingredient used in the production of drugs, cosmetics, polish and candles.
To learn more about beekeeping and honey, as well finding novels with beekeeping as a thematic element, make a beeline to your local Manatee County Public Library.
“Homegrown Honey Bees” by Alethea Morrison, provides practical help in choosing beekeeping equipment and managing healthy colonies. Kim Flottum’s “The Backyard Beekeeper” includes information on organic beekeeping, as well as how to create candles and lotions utilizing honey and beeswax. Packed with information, advice and recipes, Alison Benjamin’s “Keeping Bees and Making Honey” contains everything a beekeeper might need to know about bees and harvesting honey. “The Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping” by Daniel Johnson, is filled with helpful information for successful backyard beekeeping.
Combining rich detail and fascinating anecdote, “Robbing the Bees, a Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World” by Holley Bishop, explores the role of honey in civilization, how bees have been depicted in art and poetry, the science and culture of beekeeping, honey recipes both ancient and modern, the myriad uses of beeswax, and much more.
Bees and beekeeping are a theme in a variety of novels. In the international bestselling novel, “The History of Bees,” Norwegian author Maja Lunde tells a story sweeping in scope but intimate in detail set in 19th century England, contemporary America, and a future dystopian China. The novel is an urgent reminder of how much human survival depends on these remarkable insects.
“A Recipe for Bees” by Gail Anderson-Dargatz, is an evocative novel of one woman’s passionately lived life and of the pleasure to be found in human contact and simple natural things. Raised by a silent, but companionable father and a mother who kept bees, headstrong Augusta marries shy, deferential Karl. Together they live on his father’s remote farm where Augusta, suffering from isolation and boredom, finds romance with another man. Many years later she finds salvation in beekeeping, the practice first learned from her mother. Beekeeping reconnects her to the world and at long last brings fire to her marriage.
Other novels to seek out are “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd (also made into a 2008 film of the same name) and “Telling the Bees” by Peggy Hesketh.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Cathy Habora is a staff member at the Braden River Branch Library.