Book Review: Fruitless Fall

by Gary

I was browsing beekeeping books in the library and stumbled across “Fruitless Fall, sales ” by Rowan Jacobson, clinic a dramatic narrative written in the wake of colony collapse disorder, the recent and mysterious mass die-off of honey bees across the United States and other parts of the world. Positioned against “Silent Spring,” the book is sub-titled “The collapse of the honey bee and the coming agricultural crisis”.

This is not a narrative about the average hobby beekeeper, but instead that of those who endure the risks of a career in full-time agriculture, heavily reliant on a single insect for their living. Whether the book would be helpful to the hobbyist I couldn’t say, it seems that it is difficult to tell if hobby beekeepers have been hit with this phenomenon given that their bees are not as well tracked. Either way, if you read this book, you can step into any beekeeping list or forum and appreciate the current controversies in beekeeping.

Jacobson lays the blame for bee deaths squarely at the foot of increased and heavy pesticide use, but with extensive explanation of other contributing factors, from new and strengthened bee diseases, to a subsection of the agricultural landscape that homogenizes crops and requires moving beehives thousands of miles every year. There does not seem to be much counterpoint to this argument included, so the book feels a bit one-sided at times.

The author indicates that colony collapse disorder has impacted other parts of the world, but the story is almost entirely U.S.-centric. This is not unsurprising, given that U.S. beekeepers seem inclined to be fear and try to prevent entrance of foreign bees, rather than learning to understand how their international counterparts handle the same issues. This is an understandable given the history of imported bee diseases, but I suspect U.S. beekeepers would be well-served to spend more time communicating with their foreign counterparts to see what problems are shared.

A fascinating dive into the natural science surrounding honey bee colonies and pollination is included in the novel – likely little of this is news to anyone ensconced in the beekeeping world, but it is fascinating for someone on the outside, or someone who is hobby gardener, or just interested in where our food comes from.

Overall “Fruitless Fall” is well worth the read, recommended for beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike. See Amazon to purchase and for more reviews.

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