The Nature and Necessity of Bees


By Thor Hanson

Formats and Prices




$25.99 CAD



  1. Trade Paperback $19.99 $25.99 CAD
  2. ebook $14.99 $19.99 CAD
  3. Hardcover $27.00 $34.00 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 3, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

As seen on PBS’s American Spring LIVE, the award-winning author of The Triumph of Seeds and Feathers presents a natural and cultural history of bees: the buzzing wee beasties that make the world go round.

Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part, unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships that bind the human and natural worlds. In Buzz, the beloved Thor Hanson takes us on a journey that begins 125 million years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young. From honeybees and bumbles to lesser-known diggers, miners, leafcutters, and masons, bees have long been central to our harvests, our mythologies, and our very existence. They’ve given us sweetness and light, the beauty of flowers, and as much as a third of the foodstuffs we eat. And, alarmingly, they are at risk of disappearing.

As informative and enchanting as the waggle dance of a honeybee, Buzz shows us why all bees are wonders to celebrate and protect. Read this book and you’ll never overlook them again.

  • Winner of the 2019 Pacific Northwest Book Award
  • "Vividly zinging...[Hanson] zips and waggles through fascinating journeys to meet fellow bee obsessives, reminding us that...we have brought trouble upon ourselves: 40 percent of the bee species are in decline threatened with extinction."
    New York Times Book Review
  • "Hanson is an insightful observer of evolution, at his most elegant when digging deep into the science...[His] senses are, indeed, sharp when observing the natural world."
    Wall Street Journal
  • "Buzz shines the most brightly...when Hanson's own adoration of bees comes through: he wanders around the landscape observing them and musing about their natural history in ways that light up the page...A rewarding choice for readers keen on science and nature."
  • "According to Thor Hanson's Buzz, the relationship between bees and the human lineage goes back three million years...Both our world and our brains, it seems, have been profoundly shaped by bees."
    New York Review of Books
  • "Charming...Hanson is an upbeat and often humorous guide...If you have time to read one book on what is happening with modern bees, you couldn't do better than Buzz."
  • "A loving, infectiously enthusiastic natural history."
    Christian Science Monitor
  • "Popular science at its intelligent best."
  • "In Buzz, Thor Hanson reminds us that the apian community is incredibly diverse...[He] expertly explores the history and ecology of bees around the world."
    New Scientist
  • "Timely...The core message of this charming book [is to] be fascinated, and hopefully that will lead us to take action to protect these marvelous and critically important insects."
    Los Angeles Review of Books
  • "Engaging."
    Scientific American
  • "Fun, fascinating and full of engaging pen portraits of the scientists and bee enthusiasts [Hanson] meets in the course of his research...By the final section of this book Hanson's sense of wonder has rubbed off on us."
  • "For this natural history of the bee, biologist Thor Hanson wings far beyond the hive to explore bee species from 'bumbles' to wool carders... Apiology, Hanson reminds us, is not just about the scientific buzz: bee behaviour has shed light on human issues from addiction to collective decision-making."
  • "Engagingly written, well researched, widely informative...Hanson is a conservation biologist with an infectious curiosity."
    American Bee Journal
  • "Celebrates the wide diversity of bee anatomy and behavior...The storyline here is a sadly familiar denouement to many modern natural histories, a tale of pathogens, habitat destruction, pesticides...[But] if there are a few sour notes in its closing bars, the prevailing buzz in Hanson's book is sweet, sweet music."
    Natural History
  • "[A] lively look at bees. From exploring the insect's evolutionary beginnings to profiling celebrity beekeepers, Hanson reminds us that we should appreciate these complex creatures, which are vital to our way of life."
    Seattle Magazine
  • "This book is an accessible and engaging read; particularly enjoyable are Hanson's descriptions of his own forays into the world of bees."
    Edible East Bay
  • "Delightful...Bringing to mind Bill Bryson's complicated, but engaging ability to intertwine nature, science, art, history and culture, Hanson weaves a similar spell about the world's 20,000 species of bees."
    Winnipeg Free Press
  • "If you think the sting of declining bee populations won't affect you, think again...Hanson take[s] himself and readers on a journey of exploration."
    Bend Bulletin
  • "Enjoyable...Hanson's enthusiasm in infectious."
    Current Biology
  • "Buzz provokes thought and promotes action."
    Coast Weekend
  • "[Hanson] is a charmingly enthusiastic bee fanatic and his book is a pleasure to read."
    Daily Mail
  • "Entertaining...The author's point is plain: we need to adopt an approach to insects and to their central role in the maintenance of all life."
    New Statesman
  • " surprisingly optimistic that we can reform and protect our bees, citing recent research and improved agricultural practices. In Buzz, he states his case while entertainingly recounting human-and-bee history and his own experiences with many bee species."
  • "Lively and entertaining, Hanson's work introduces the world of bees--all bees, not just honeybees...Of interest to farmers, gardeners, ecologists, and anyone concerned about bees and their impact on our food supply."
    Library Journal
  • "This beautifully written natural history book, brought to us by a graceful and talented author, packs surprise after surprise with every turn of the page. Who knew bees were just evolved wasps? Or that ancient Egyptians ferried bees up and down the Nile to pollinate their crops? Don't pass this one up."
    Wendy Williams, author of TheHorse
  • "Thor Hanson is a magician at making entomology and taxonomy exciting, highlighting the fascinating world of bees. Buzz hums with science and history, exposing how bees have shaped our world. A delightful, buzzworthy must-read!"
    Daniel Chamovitz, author of Whata Plant Knows
  • "As he did for feathers and seeds, Thor Hanson has written a wonderfully engaging work of natural history that will delight readers with its elegant prose, surprising stories, and deep humanity. Bees, so important to life on earth, are fortunate to have someone as passionate and knowledgeable as Hanson tell the tale of their evolutionary past, turbulent present, and precarious future. After reading Buzz, you will look at bees with a profound mixture of awe and gratitude."
    Eric Jay Dolin, author of BlackFlags, Blue Waters, and Leviathan
  • "This book hums with the unique mixture of science, adventure, intelligence, wonder, linguistic virtuosity, and great storytelling we have come to expect from Thor Hanson's work. But it offers something new and rare as well. Here we are drawn into a surprising and enchanted world that is hidden in plain sight. All who read Buzz will eat dinner, walk in the neighborhood, search the flowers, and yes-listen to the drone of bees-with changed minds and hearts, ones that are freshly attuned to our beautiful and essential interconnection with the six-legged beings who share and co-create our history, our mythology, our sustenance, our planet, and our future."
    Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Crow Planet and Mozart's Starling
  • "This book is a joy. In it, Thor Hanson reminds us that the story of bees is the story of the origin of societies, of sweetness and collapse, of flowers and their sex, and if the humans who study all of these things. It is a story of evolution and biodiversity, a story that bears on much of the food we eat but also so very much else. Buy it. Read it. Read it again. And when you do, you will look out at the buzzing world anew."
    Rob Dunn, author of Never Home Alone and The Wild Life of Our Bodies
  • "Thor Hanson is a gifted story teller and naturalist. In Buzz, he takes us along on a wondrous, action-packed journey to discover the secret lives of bees, flowers, and the unconventional men and women who study them. This book really is the buzz about bees, and it's destined to become a natural history classic."
    Stephen Buchmann, author of The Reason for Flowers

On Sale
Sep 3, 2019
Page Count
304 pages
Basic Books

Thor Hanson

About the Author

Thor Hanson is a conservation biologist, Guggenheim fellow, and author of award-winning books including Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid, Buzz, Feathers, and The Triumph of Seeds. He lives with his wife and son on an island in Washington State.

Learn more about this author