A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings: A year of keeping bees
Scribner, $35 hb, 293 pp, 9781471167713
The eighteenth-century Swiss naturalist François Huber (1750–1831), who is still credited with much of what we know about bees, was almost completely blind when he made his acute ‘observations’ and significant discoveries. Huber studiously recorded the queen bee’s ‘nuptial flight’ and method of impregnation, her reproduction of very useful worker bees when inseminated and less useful drones by parthenogenesis (i.e. without insemination), and her violent, stinging duels with rival queens. Wrought from painstaking experiment, his findings inadvertently challenged common associations of the queen and her commonwealth with chastity, virgin conception, and peaceful government.