On our book shelves devoted to beekeeping are some of the classics; Langstroth’s Hive and the Honey Bee, Root & Miller’s ABC and ZYZ of Honey Bee Culture, Francis Huber’s New Observation Upon Bees, and dozens of other books that cover everything from queen breeding and selection to honey production to health benefits from hive products.
Added to the collection is now a signed copy of Mark Winston’s Bee Time: Lessons From The Hive.
It’s not that Winston’s writings haven’t already found their way onto our bookshelves; we already have a copy of his seminal textbook, The Biology of the Honey Bee, along with his Killer Bees: the Africanized HoneyBee in the Americas.
Winston had for years operated a bee research laboratory at Simon Fraser University. He closed it a number of years ago and when I asked him why, he once said “because I don’t think there is anything more I can learn about bees.”
Clearly, he was wrong; he had another book about bees in him, and it has become a bestseller.
I’ve had a well-thumbed copy of Bee Time sitting on my desk that I had used for a review, but a couple of weeks ago I bought a new copy for Winston to sign.
It was a prescient decision; the book had just been nominated for a Governor General’s award in non-fiction. Winston had agreed to come to the B.C. Honey Producers Association to give a talk “Value or Values: Audacious Ideas for the Future of Beekeeping” so I planned to have him sign it there.
The BCHPA had also bought some copies, which were given to other speakers as thank you gifts.
Winston was over the moon at being nominated. If you know him, that would be an odd way to describe him. He’s normally quiet, even reserved. He has that typical countenance of a science researcher, one I’d seen thousands of times on my father’s face; studiously thoughtful while pondering the full weight of a student’s question.
So it was pleasant to see that he was far less reserved about being nominated for the GG’s Award.
Well, I’d like to have seen his face this week when the awards came out: his book was chosen the best in Canada in its class. It is a significant award to a man who has spent his life working to understand the complexity of bees and their relationship to us.
Here’s what the jury had to say:
In his exquisite Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive, Mark L. Winston distills a life’s devotion to the study of bees into a powerful and lyrical meditation on humanity. This compelling book inspires us to reevaluate our own relationships both with each other and the natural world. Vital reading for our time.
Bee Time isn’t just a book about bees. It is a book about our relationship with them, what we do to them, and what they do for us. And like all worthy books, it oscillates between good and bad, offering us a heart-warming look at their social behaviour while also showing us how our love affair with pesticides is pushing them towards a precipice. Here’s another review, by www.bcbooklook.com
I’m very pleased Winston has won this award; it is well-deserved.
A while ago Simon Fraser University cut a short video with him talking about how the world slows down for him when he enters a bee yard.
Here’s the video.