The familiar European hive bee, Apis mellifera, has long dominated honey bee research. But in the last 15 years, teams in China, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand began to shift focus to the indigenous Asian honey bees. Benjamin Oldroyd, well known for his work on the genetics and evolution of worker sterility, has teamed with Siriwat Wongsiri, a pioneer of the study of bees in Thailand, to provide a comparative work synthesizing the rapidly expanding Asian honey bee literature. After introducing the species, the authors review evolution and speciation, division of labor, communication, and nest defense. They underscore the pressures colonies face from pathogens, parasites, and predators--including man--and detail the long and amazing history of the honey hunt. This book provides a cornerstone for future investigations on these species, insights into the evolution across species, and a direction for conservation efforts to protect these keystone species of Asia's tropical forests.
Asian Honey Bees goes well beyond its immediate subject, using the diverse and fascinating species of honey bees to explore current issues in evolutionary biology and illustrate economic and cultural interactions between humans and nature. Oldroyd and Wongsiri have produced a thorough, timely, and well-organized book, clearly written, fluid, and engaging to read. This is an important, thought-provoking contribution that will have considerable impact on many sectors, including basic studies of social insect biology, economic development of Asian beekeeping, and the conservation of one of our planet's most important group of organisms, the honey bees.
Oldroyd and Wongsiri have synthesized the explosion of research on Asian honey bees over the last decade in one well-organized volume. Asian Honey Bees integrates the expanded knowledge of the biology of Asian honey bees with knowledge of the western honey bee, Apis mellifera, examining and expanding all of the leading theories that explain those essential attributes of species of honey bees that result in both their great similarities and their enormous differences. The authors also review the place of Asian honey bees in human culture and how we can and must conserve Asian species. With its clear and incisive presentation, Asian Honey Bees is a milestone in honey bee biology which ignites curiosity and inspires future work as much as it synthesizes past work.
Our profound knowledge of honey bees, accumulating since Aristotle's time, takes on an altogether different meaning when we realize that there is not just the one extremely well studied European honey bee species but that there are also eight other species of honey bees that occur in Asia. Oldroyd and Wongsiri succeed admirably in assisting the non-specialist by organizing our current knowledge, to which they have made a significant contribution, in an orderly species-by-topic matrix and, at the same time, in laying bare, for the specialist, our profound ignorance of honey bees, taken in the plural sense of nine species. But the real success of their effort will be judged, a decade down the line, by how many honey bee researchers it helps create from among the rich community of Asian biologists--I have great hope.
Oldroyd and Wongsiri give us a compellingly argued account of the fascinating lives of these insects and the threats they face. Profusely illustrated, Asian Honey Bees is a delight to read. I highly recommend it to scientists, beekeepers, and bee and honey lovers everywhere.
Asian Honey Bees succeeds admirably. It is both an authoritative monograph that will satisfy experts and a highly readable book that will engage students and biologists in general. It presents Asian honeybees in the broader context of social behaviour and evolution while giving a real feeling for the bees themselves, including their interactions with humans.
- 360 pages
- 0-15/16 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
- Foreword by Thomas D. Seeley
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