Bishop, Holley 1966(?)–
Bishop, Holley 1966(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1966. Hobbies and other interests: Beekeeping.
CAREER: Writer. Has worked as a literary agent.
Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold That Seduced the World, Free Press (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Holley Bishop is a former literary agent and part-time beekeeper. Her first book, Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold That Seduced the World, reflects her passion for bees and their most famous product. Her interest in bees and honey was sparked by a neighbor who kept a couple of hives on his property. Before long she had begun to learn the ancient art and science of beekeeping, and had some hives of her own. Robbing the Bees details the many ancient references to honey. For instance, royal seals in Egypt featured representations of bees, as did Greek coins and the coat of arms of Napoleon. The insects' cooperative way of life, in which the individuals are important only for their contributions to the hive as a whole, has long been a subject of fascination to philosophers and sociologists, while the geometric, intricate structure of their hives inspired the likes of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Bishop's book explains how a bee anatomy is perfectly adapted to mesh with a flower's in order to facilitate pollination. The insects' pollen-collecting abilities are enhanced by the static electricity they create as they fly—up to 450 volts of it. The author also offers a profile of Donald Smiley, one of the approximately two thousand professional beekeepers in the United States. The long hours, hard work, and relatively low profit margin typical of beekeeping mean that one must be truly dedicated to make it a profession. In recent years, parasites fatal to bee populations have presented serious challenges to beekeepers, although declines in natural populations have presented new business opportunities. Some beekeepers travel with their hives to farms that hire them to ensure good crop pollination. In addition to detailing history, lore, and factual information about bees and beekeeping, the author also includes a section of honey-based recipes and information about the medicinal uses of bee products.
Booklist reviewer Nancy Bent called Robbing the Bees an "eminently readable" book, noting that in her descriptions of modern bee culture, Bishop's "journalistic ear for local culture is put to good use." A Publishers Weekly writer commented that the author is, at times, weighed down by her attempt to include so much information. Yet she concluded that, "her combination of engrossing natural history and down-home reportage make this a fitting homage to one of nature's most admirable creatures."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2005, Nancy Bent, review of Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold That Seduced the World, p. 1124.
Forbes, March 14, 2005, Susan Adams, review of Robbing the Bees, p. 117.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2005, review of Robbing the Bees, p. 93.
Newsday, May 15, 2005, Kerry Fried, review of Robbing the Bees.
Publishers Weekly, February 14, 2005, review of Robbing the Bees, p. 61.
Bookreporter, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (July 7, 2005), review of Robbing the Bees.