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Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,023 ratings  ·  189 reviews
From the award-winning author of The Triumph of Seeds and Feathers, a natural and cultural history of the buzzing wee beasties that make the world go round.
Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part, unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships that bind the human and natural worlds. In Buzz, the beloved Thor Hanson
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Basic Books (first published July 2nd 2018)
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Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Thor Hanson can do no wrong in my eyes.
I cannot believe it has taken me this long to read a book by Thor Hanson.

This book is a love letter to the bees of the world. I really enjoyed the writing style. Hanson has an incredible voice and his enthusiasm for the natural world is contagious!

There is so much that is covered in this book - the unique anatomy of bees, why vegetarianism helped them thrive as a species, the very important role bees play in the natural world and how that directly affects humans, the perseverance and passion of
✨Sumi's Books✨
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Captivating and informative.
"Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part, unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships that bind the human and natural worlds. In Buzz, the beloved Thor Hanson takes us on a journey that begins 125 million years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young. From honeybees and bumbles to lesser-known diggers, miners, leafcutters, and masons, bees have long been central to our harvests, our mytholog
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Buzz, biologist Thor Hanson takes us on a journey of bees, starting with their evolutionary beginning from wasps, to their diet and social structure, to their symbiotic relationship with flowers and vegetables that has exploded our world in color, fragrance, and taste. He talks about the bond between humans and bees, reminding us that we have relied on bees since the dawn of human evolution.

There are so many interesting tidbits and facts in this book. For example, there is evidence showing t
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure, I. flipping. love. bees. They always seem so happy when they're just buzzing to and fro with their fluffy little butts and furry little legs. I just really love bees.

But until now, I knew very little about them. They buzz. They pollinate. They make honey. Occasionally, they sting. There are a bunch of different kinds that look nothing alike. Some of them are super fluffy and others are not but no matter what they go 'buzz' and make me happy. But I didn't have any technical know
Katie Long
This is Science writing at its best; conversational, nuanced, and never boring. I came in with basically no knowledge, I thought all bees lived in hives and made honey (which I’m pretty sure I learned from Winnie the Pooh), yet still managed to come away with with a basic understanding of the ways in which bees affect the evolution of ecosystems and agricultural systems. Hanson convinces you without ever proselytizing.
Brian Clegg
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is no shortage of books about bees - not surprising given their fascinating social structures and importance in pollinating plants. But the majority of titles concentrate on the most familiar bee species, the honey bee and their superorganism nature. However, that leaves out thousands of species of wild bees, from the familiar bumble bees to tiny black insects few would even realise were bees. What Thor Hanson does so well is introduce us to the intriguing world of the wild bee.

I don't fin
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
From BBC radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Dr Thor Hansen on the nature and necessity of bees.

Bees are like oxygen - ubiquitous, essential and, for the most part, unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships that bind the human and natural worlds. Dr Hanson takes us on a journey that begins 125 million years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young.

From honeybees and bumbles to lesser-known diggers, miners, leafcutters, and masons, bees have long been cen
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Enjoyable and informative! Would definitely recommend if you're curious about bees 🐝

Longer review to come... maybe.
Nostalgia Reader
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful look at the amazing world of bees. Hanson covers not just the typical honey and bumblebees, but also the secret lives of leafcutters, masons, cuckoo (i.e. parasite bees), and alkali bees, among others. Anecdotal stories, discussions with experts, and a good dose of natural history combines in each chapter to give an interesting dive into the life of bees--how our interactions affect them, how they have cleverly coadapted with flowers, how they're essentially vegetarian wasps, and wha ...more
If anything comes across in this book, it's that Thor Hanson loves bees. Not only that, he's actively raising his son to love bees as well. Hanson shifts the focus from the necessity of honeybees (which, of course, are necessary, but so much has been written about honeybees) to other bees: the communal and solitary bees that are absolutely essential pollinators.

If you're thinking about buying those packs of wildflower seeds to encourage bee populations in your area: read this book first! It's v
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Buzz is a wonderful introduction to the natural history non-fiction and an eye-opening history of bees in culture and why they remain so important to us #savethebees
Bees have been revered by humanity for generations, they have provided honey but most importantly have been key pollinators for the plants that we rely on for foods. Not just honey bees, but other pollinators that we rely on are the more solitary bees that we don’t notice as much. It is these bees that Thor Hanson concentrates on in this book, beginning 125 million years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young.

There are around 20,00 species of bee in the world today and even in
Samantha Allen
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
🐝🐝🐝 Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to this book is that I was afraid of bess when I first picked it up but, after the first few chapters, I started looking for them every time I walk by flowers. I stare at bees now, transfixed, in awe of their work and their beauty. 🐝🐝🐝
Lola Et La Vie
This was just the type of non-fiction book I like reading, which meant that I learned a lot from it without having the feeling I am being lectured to.

Thor Hanson has a wonderful way of explaining the world of bees, as if he is telling the reader about his discoveries as he delves deeper into this fascinating (and essential) group of insects. The passion the author has for his subject is clear and he explained things very well without getting too preachy or scientific. I loved the way he involved
Andy Miller
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This great book is all about bees; from their evolution from wasps, to the many different subspecies, to how different species have different ways of acting with each other, to their role in our world to the current challenges facing their survival and what things we can do to help.
The author, Thor Hanson is a scientist who did his research including trips to see science experts to trips to Touchet Washington to witness efforts to encourage bee population that help the local alfalfa farms to Cen
Hayley Stenger
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. The author was really self-deprecating and had a quite personal voice that made the book accessible to anyone. He really cared about the bees on a kind level. I appreciated that. What I was struck by most was the relationship of bees and flowers. I liked learning about how flowers grow to attract bees. I am going to start growing more flowers for bees in my garden and you can bet I will be studying those bees with what knowledge I learned from the book.
If you have a passing
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was fascinating. I didn't know that I'd ever be this interested in bees, but here we are. Hanson does a wonderful job balancing all the science-y jargon with layman's terms. The content was accessible to a general audience, and was full of easily digestible information about bees. There are plenty of anecdotes and photographs thrown in as well, so the writing feels more like you're having a conversation with the author versus reading an academic study. It was refreshing. I'm glad I read thi ...more
Jim Razinha
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-copies
I was given an advanced review e-copy of uncorrected page proofs from the publisher through NetGalley. I'd love to see the final book because all of the images were in gray-scale. That and I'd like to share it. Lately I have too many books to read - assigned and by choice - but I read this over the entire weekend.

If asked to reduce this love affair to one word, I would choose habitat. Mr. Hanson repeats that theme/concept/perspective multiple many times throughout his book, but gently, as part o
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: natural-history
a fine natural history of wild bees, mostly from North America. this is one of those books where on any given page a reader could follow threads (of entomology, biology, history, botany, and at times art, anthropology, and geography and more) for lifetimes of reading.
there are some parts on the honey bee, but mostly deals with bumblebees, mason, digger , sweat, and wasps too. has photos, drawings, great endnotes, bibliography and index.
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
My fourth Hanson book,. and he continues to inspire and educate me. Here we explore the world of native bees, not just honey bees. It's distressing to learn about stressors on the population, but we also learn how people are working to help restore habitats and are encouraged with ways we can help bees locally. Hanson seems so approachable both in his ideas and as a person. I loved that his son made many appearances through out Hanson's enthusiasm for his subject is contagious. ...more
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very good book on mostly native bees, but also touches on things like the history of bees and human relationships with bees. Well written and very engaging. Not at all depressing, Hanson spends the bulk of his time telling us why bees are amazing and worthy of our interest, and then the last little bit telling us we should be worried but also giving us hope - a perfect balance, carefully calculated to garner the maximum amount of investment in bees from his readers. Worked for me. Recommended.
Michael G. Zink
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enlightening summary about bees, and the current concern about their dwindling numbers, especially in North American. The author writes in an accessible style as he explains the science but I was hoping for more beyond a handful of anecdotes about possible solutions. Recommended, well written.
Jamie Bowen
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
A fascinating look into the lives of bees, their history, the issues they currently face and possibly the future. It's an interesting and easy read. ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s always hard reviewing non fiction. But you need to know your bees.
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mer by: non-fiction book club read
The author walked the line just right for me. Not too broad that there's no science involved and not so deep into the science and technical lingo to make my eyes glaze over or become confused and then frustrated.

Also a nice mix of interaction with experts in a wide range of topics and his own personal experiences.

Even tho I'm allergic to bee stings this book has me looking forward to seeing bees this summer and possibly acquiring plants to entice them into my backyard.
Berit Lundqvist
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This is an absolutely charming book. Hanson travels around to meet up with a number of bee experts, either pepople who are studying bees or people who are working with them. On the trip, the reader can learn a lot about bee biology, bee evolution, bee importance, and bee threats.

This expert knowledge is also mixed with descriptions of his own personal experiences. For example how to build an insect hotel in your garden or how to deconstruct a Big Mac to find out how many of the ingredients are d
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Last year I read Thor Hanson’s “The Triumph of Seeds” and picked up “Buzz” because I enjoyed my first book from the author, and am interested in the problems facing bee colonies around the world. With “Buzz. The Nature and Necessity of Bees” Hanson once again proves that he’s a solid biologist and a very talented storyteller and writer.

While many people find the subject of insects to be repulsive, Hanson romanticises them bees and describes the special relationship that mankind has had with the
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just plain cool. Hanson lays out so many great facts about bees--and not just honeybees!--with a storyteller's flair. I had no idea there were so many very very distinct bees in the world, and Hanson makes them memorable with tales of their vital importance to our world. ...more
Rob Caswell
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
The information in this book was enlightening, but the overall organization of the data seemed poor. Reading this was like spending an afternoon with the author and letting him ramble. It goes to some interesting places, but it darts about without real structure and leaves you wanting for more information on areas that are briefly touched on… like the reader’s being teased.

The book was also rather short. Maybe doubling its size would have allowed for a more robust factual content and a better de
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Thor Hanson is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Switzer Environmental Fellow, and winner of the John Burroughs Medal. His books include The Impenetrable Forest, Feathers, Buzz, The Triumph of Seeds, and Bartholomew Quill. Hanson lives with his wife and son on an island in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at his website:


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“In the past, people around the world heard the buzzing of bees as voices of the departed, a murmured conveyance from the spirit world. This belief traces back to the cultures of Egypt and Greece, among others, where tradition held that a person's soul appeared in bee form when it left the body, briefly visible (and audible) in its journey to the hereafter...Nobody knows the exact sequence of events that led to the beginning of bees, but everyone can agree on at least one thing: we know what it sounded like.” 6 likes
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