Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation
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“Queen Bee,” “busy as a bee,” and “the land of milk and honey” are expressions that permeate the language within American culture. Music, movies, art, advertising, poetry, children’s books, and literature all incorporate the dynamic image of the tiny, industrious honey bee into our popular imagination. Honey bees—and the values associated with them—have influenced American values for four centuries. Bees and beekeepers have represented order and stability in a country without a national religion, political party, language, or family structure. Bees in America is an enlightening cultural history of bees and beekeeping in the United States. Tammy Horn, herself a beekeeper, offers a social and technological history from the colonial period, when the British first brought bees to the New World, to the present, when bees are being trained by the American military to detect bombs. Horn shows how the honey bee was one of the first symbols of colonization and how bees’ societal structures shaped our ideals about work, family, community, and leisure. In turn, the Puritan work ethic was modeled after the beehive, and this model continues to influence American definitions of success. Still a powerful symbol today, the honey bee is both a source of income and a metaphor for America’s place at the center of global advances in information and technology.
" Honey bees--and the qualities associated with them--have quietly influenced American values for four centuries. During every major period in the country's history, bees and beekeepers have represented order and stability in a country without a national religion, political party, or language. Bees in America is an enlightening cultural history of bees and beekeeping in the United States. Tammy Horn, herself a beekeeper, offers a varied social and technological history from the colonial period, when the British first introduced bees to the New World, to the present, when bees are being used by the American military to detect bombs. Early European colonists introduced bees to the New World as part of an agrarian philosophy borrowed from the Greeks and Romans. Their legacy was intended to provide sustenance and a livelihood for immigrants in search of new opportunities, and the honey bee became a sign of colonization, alerting Native Americans to settlers' westward advance. Colonists imagined their own endeavors in terms of bees' hallmark traits of industry and thrift and the image of the busy and growing hive soon shaped American ideals about work, family, community, and leisure. The image of the hive continued to be popular in the eighteenth century, symbolizing a society working together for the common good and reflecting Enlightenment principles of order and balance. Less than a half-century later, Mormons settling Utah (where the bee is the state symbol) adopted the hive as a metaphor for their protected and close-knit culture that revolved around industry, harmony, frugality, and cooperation. In the Great Depression, beehives provided food and bartering goods for many farm families, and during World War II, the War Food Administration urged beekeepers to conserve every ounce of beeswax their bees provided, as more than a million pounds a year were being used in the manufacture of war products ranging from waterproofing products to tape. The bee remains a bellwether in modern America. Like so many other insects and animals, the bee population was decimated by the growing use of chemical pesticides in the 1970s. Nevertheless, beekeeping has experienced a revival as natural products containing honey and beeswax have increased the visibility and desirability of the honey bee. Still a powerful representation of success, the industrious honey bee continues to serve both as a source of income and a metaphor for globalization as America emerges as a leader in the Information Age.
Provides a thorough social history of America, examining all possible instances of honey bee imagery used in cultural contexts. Well referenced. Readable and recommended for anyone who appreciated off beat perspectives in social history. -- Northeastern Naturalist
Horn shows the potential for cultural studies to reach out in new directions&will appeal to non-specialist audiences&entertaining and informative. -- Appalachian Journal
Offers a cultural, social and technological history of beekeeping, from the time the practice was introduced into the New World by the British as a form of livelihood and sustenance to the present. -- Associated Press [Orangeburg (SC) Times and Democrat, Staten Island (NY) Advance
You will love this book . . . . That honey bees helped shape America cannot be disputed. Here are many of the ways they worked their magic. -- Bee Culture
Bees in America is, at its most basic, a cultural history of not just a small insect, but of a sports logo, commercials, art, adages, and farming. . . . Full of enough oddball information (and archival photography and artwork) that it'll keep you busy as a . . . well, you know. -- Blue Ridge Business Journal
This excellent example of the effects agriculture has on history will be a welcome addition . -- Booklist
Ambitious. . . . Takes the reader deep into the American side of this sprawling story. -- Books and Culture
Integrates history, technology, sociology, economics, and politics with this remarkable insect serving as the unifying concept. -- Buffalo News
A useful book. . . . A comprehensive history of bees in America. -- Canadian Journal of History
A fascinating and very readable cultural history of bees and beekeeping in the United States. -- Choice
Introduces some big political ideas that are very much worth knowing about. . . . Also full of the kind of rich detail that a narrow focus, paradoxically, makes room for. -- Christian Science Monitor
From the honey producers of ancient times to today's military scouts, bees have always been at the center of history, and Tammy Horn's books gives an excellent overview of how and why. -- Invention & Technology
I ... think it is great that Horn has written a book on beekeeping history that will appeal to the general public, as well as beekeepers. I know that U.S. beekeepers will be grateful that Tammy Horn is sharing the story of their love affair with [the] honey bee to the general population. I can't help but believe that after reading Horn's book, more people will be stimulated to explore the wonderful world of beekeeping! Bees in America is a welcome respite from our fast-paced, technology-driven society. -- Joe Graham, editor of American Bee Journal
A scholarly, but readable, look at the influence of the honey bee throughout America's history. -- Kentucky Monthly
Honey bees and man have traveled a long and perilous journey from their tentative first flights in colonial America to the intensely managed, politically volatile pollination fields of a modern, fertile California. Horn traces the many paths of honey bee and human interaction in America and weaves them together for a colorful, intimate and in-depth tale that grandly encompasses keen inventions, slavery, religion, war, economics, politics, and the global market place, to produce the fabric of our American experience for over 400 years. -- Kim Flottum, Editor, BeeCulture
Horn's social history of bees and beekeeping in the United States reveals how integral bees have been to the settlement and culture of our country. -- Lexington Herald-Leader
Horn brilliantly creates a richly researched and wonderfully written text. Even those who view bees with some degree of horror will be pleasantly surprised . -- New York Resident
Bees in America is a fabulous treatment of how the honey bee shaped social, political, and economic attitudes duringcolonization and beyond in America. The story is still a very important one today. -- North Vernon Sun
The honey bee isn't native to the U.S., but it's hard to imagine the country without it. Horn...provides a wealth of worthy material about bees in America, from the use of the hive metaphor to justify colonization in the 1500s and 1600s, to bees' role in pollinating the prairies and orchards that we now take for granted. -- Publishers Weekly
Filled with piquant anecdotes about bees and their keepers, drawn from a wide range of sources. -- Richard Schweid, author of The Cockroach Papers and Consider the Eel
Builds a social history of the bee in America, beginning with the earliest colonists (honeybees aren't native to North America) and ending with hyper-contemporary electronic hives and the Bee Genome Project. . . . A heroic book in its scope. -- Salon.com
An effective blend of humor and serious scholarship. . . . It merits wide readership. -- Southern Historian
Bee folklore, science, and history recounted in a delightful book full of anecdotes and facts which will spark admiration for this sometimes overlooked part of our nation's agriculture. -- Times of Acadiana
Shows how bees, since their arrival in America, have affected people, like their impact on native peoples and their use by colonists. -- Utah Historical Quarterly
Will most appeal to American history buffs, who may be surprised to learn how bees, honey, and beekeepers figure in events, prominent and obscure, that shaped our nation. -- Zoogoer
Horn is at her sweetest when she works through the relevance of bees in our literature, folklore, and music. -- Journal of Appalachian Studies