Skip to content
Hardcover Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey--The Sweet Liquid Gold That Seduced the World Book

ISBN: 0743250214

ISBN13: 9780743250214

Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey--The Sweet Liquid Gold That Seduced the World

Select Format

Select Condition ThriftBooks Help Icon


Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

Save $15.81!
List Price $24.00
Almost Gone, Only 1 Left!

Book Overview

Honey has been waiting almost ten million years for a good biography. Bees have been making this prized food -- for centuries the world's only sweetener -- for millennia, but we humans started... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A paean to bees, honey, and wax

"But if a man be grown old, and have a loose and hanging member, he shall do this. Of seed of rocket, cumin, pepper, and seed of purslain, being bruised and made up with honey, let him take it morning and evening. It is incomparable." Who needs the expense of Viagra? In ROBBING THE BEES, author Holley Bishop, herself an amateur bee keeper for six years, has penned an eminently readable and loving tribute to bees, honey, and beeswax. While not a thriller, nor perhaps one you can't put down, it is at the top of the genre of books that teaches us a little bit about the world we inhabit, and which focuses on a subject about which the reader likely gives little thought. I mean, honey is on the supermarket shelf in those cute, squeezable, plastic bears. What more is there to know, right? A relatively small portion of the text - regrettably too little - describes Bishop's own experience raising bees. Rather, she was invited by Florida bee keeper and honey merchant, Donald Smiley, to accompany him on his daily rounds over the course of a year as he moved his apiaries from place to place following the seasonal emergence of the various blossoms that provide the pollen and nectar that nourish the bees' hive and ultimately provide Mankind with one of its most historically significant food staples. Also, we learn that, over the millennia, honey has also served as drink, food preservative, money, and medicine. Thus, the quote from a 1685 Persian medical manual that heads this review. Bishop doesn't neglect beeswax, which has served to embalm bodies, provide light as candles, waterproof leather armor, polish furniture, floors and walls, mend cracked pottery, cement mosaic tiles, remove stains from marble, and serve as the substrate for lipstick and crayons. As for the bees themselves, Holly describes their life cycle and hive environment, their amazing ability for comb construction, and their accidental but vital contribution to plant pollination (without which supermarket produce sections wouldn't be the same). In short, because ROBBING THE BEES is a masterpiece of good press, I'll never look at that busy insect in the same way ever again. Cockroaches should be as lucky.

Excellent MS on a Most Important Subject. Buy It!

`Robbing the Bees, A Biography of Honey (The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World' by novice beekeeper and first time book author, Holley Bishop is a great little read, with a subject matter very similar to Mark Kurlansky's works, `Cod' and `Salt' but with an engaging style similar to `New Yorker' writer, Susan Orlean, author of `The Orchid Thief'. The fact that the primary subjects in both Orleans' and Bishop's books live and work in Florida is pure coincidence. Bishop evokes Orleans' style by switching back and forth between three main narrative lines. The opening line chronicles Bishop's own foray into beekeeping at her rural Connecticut home. This thread gives us an excellent firsthand picture of the trials of a real beekeeping novice. In the first chapter, we are introduced to the star of the second and, in many ways, the most important thread. This is Donald Smiley, a successful operator of a modest but growing beekeeping operation in the Florida panhandle who, upon being contacted by Bishop had 600 hives which grew to over a thousand in the three year course of writing this book. Aside from the fact that Smiley was the only professional beekeeper to answer Bishop's letter of inquiry, his operation is interesting because the collecting of the very interesting tupelo honey from blossoms native to the southern U.S. swamps is a major part of Smiley's yearly routine. Tupelo honey is distinguished from almost all others in that its sugars never crystallize out of the liquid honey. The story of Smiley's yearly routine is one that makes one scratch ones head in wonder over how anyone can like such a demanding schedule. But since thousands of beekeepers, just like professional chefs, commonly put in twelve to sixteen hour days and love every minute of it, one has to believe the psychic rewards to such a life are high. Smiley does have the advantage of being self-employed AND of running a business which give him an income at about twice the average of rural Florida panhandle residents. The hard part only begins with the dangers of dealing with stinging bees that are, at best, disinterested partners in the collection of honey and beeswax. In order to create a true tupelo or orange or clover specific honey, Smiley and his assistants must run through all 600 to 1000 hives and harvest what is in the hives, clean the honeycomb racks of every last trace of the previous honey, replace the honeycomb racks, and move all these hives to locations close to where the target blossoms or flowers are just opening. And, all of this has to be done in two or three days so the bees can catch the blossoms just as they start to open. The third thread in Bishop's book covers the backstory of honey, bees, and beeswax. I give Bishop serious extra points for remembering to include a chapter on beeswax. While it is a relatively unimportant product today, it is historically exceedingly important. Its surviving use in Moravian candles, for example, just scratches the sur

Neither a beekeeper nor a gardner but I loved this book.

Bees were something to swat when I was growing up and honey never eclipsed my love of chocolate. All that has changed since I read this engrossing, gorgeously written history of the world through the eyes of a beekeeper. I loved the writing, the historical view, the personal stories, the intricacies of hives and, for a city kid, the sense of wonder at seeing Mother Nature at work. But more important, I came away with a new understanding of the interconnectedness of life. If bees were to disappear from the face of the earth we would perish. Bee power! Who knew?

A beautifully written book that is sweet to the last drop

The first time I read ROBBING THE BEES (I have now read it twice), I was on three hour flight across the country. Normally distracted and restless on airplanes, I plunged into this great book from the first page and was so happy to have the uninterrupted time to read it straight through!Somewhat surprisingly, I became completely absorbed by a subject that I didn't expect to be so fascinating, but the author's fluid writing and gorgeous descriptions were enough to draw me in so much that I didn't even notice the passage of time. Everything about this book, from the fascinating history of beekeeping and honey, to the anecdotes about the quirky Florida beekeeper Don Smiley, move the book along wonderfully. What I really found to be intriguing though, was the intimate tone of the writing and the author's personal story. The fact that she found a home with her bees resonated with me, and I felt an appreciation for the craft of keeping bees more than I ever thought I would. I highly reccommend this book to anyone who would like to learn more about bees and honey and anyone who appreciates sitting down with an excellent book.

Fascinating book, gracefully written

As a non-beekeeper with an layman's curiosity about bees, I found that this book nurtured my curiosity, while remaining fully accessible to me as a general, intelligent reader. I loved the combination of modern-day and historical anecdotes and facts -- as well as the carefully drawn depiction of hero beekeeper Smiley and his life, day-to-day, season-to-season. As the reader's guide, Bishop has a personality with a welcome presence, keeping things grounded in a smart but non-academic sensibility. A totally enjoyable reading experience.
Copyright © 2023 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell/Share My Personal Information | Cookie Policy | Cookie Preferences | Accessibility Statement
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured