The snow is deep, the temperature is low and the wind chill is -31 degrees. So why would I be thinking about bees? Well, I have just finished reading Candace Savage's book, bees. Savage has been writing nature books for many years, including her recent work on Crows (crows, magpies, ravens, jays). Savage's introduction to the book reminds me of my own facscination with all those buzzing insects we see in people's gardens as we work on their trees and shrubs. She reminds me that without all that is abuzz there would be no trees, shrubs or any other plants for us to work on. These great pollinators (along with a number of other insects) are what have kept much of the plant world around for millenia.
Savage's book is written for the lay person. Rooted solidly in science, she translates for us so that we can understand the world of bees with our brains but more importantly appreciate this world of creatures so much smaller and so much bigger than ourselves. She uses prints, poems, art and photography to bring the inner workings of the hive to life.
Even if you don't find the mating and working habits of bees endlessly fascinating (Did you know that a queen honeybee lays about 1,500 eggs per day, and that she decides if it will be a male or female egg based on the size of the cell she deposits the egg into?), Savage's book is a delight to look at. The images and poems are worth the price of admission.
Now I have another reason to look forward to spring so I can go looking for some of the less familiar species she talks about. I may even build a nest box just to see what we get. And all those dried-up curb sides that irritate us because nothing will grow there? Take a closer look...
bees is available at Chapters, Audreys (Edmonton) and local independent bookstores.