Sweetness & Light


SWEETNESS & LIGHT: the mysterious history of the honeybee is the story of bees and honey from the Stone Age to the contemporary cutting edge; from Nepalese honey hunters to the urban hives on the rooftops of New York City.

How we see bees and use their honey has changed over the centuries, at each point reflecting the era. The book follows the bee through time, landing on the honeybee geniuses who made great discoveries about the insect or were inspired by them. Darwin, Le Corbusier, Shakespeare, Winnie the Pooh: anyone who’s anyone has fallen in love with bees and honey.

The book ends with the current concerns about dwindling biodiversity and disease in hives. Since the book was published in 2004 these concerns have grown considerably. Disease, pesticides and lack of food in the countryside of monocultural agribusiness all add stress to the bees.

Sweetness starts with a visit to a great place for bees and honey in Northumberland, Chainbridge Honey Farm.

Published by Sceptre, 2004 and Harmony Books, Random House, US

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“Entertaining and thoroughly worthwhile.” John Carey, THE SUNDAY TIMES

“A charming insight into the sweetness and dark side of the ‘mysterious’ honeybee.” THE OBSERVER

“Like the densely packed honeycomb of the hive, [Ellis’] book is jam-packed with information, ideas, stories and questions. Fascinating.” THE INDEPENDENT

“Richly informative and beautifully written.” Richard Mabey, THE TIMES

“An evocative work that feels, smells, and tastes like everything to do with bees. Readers will be absorbed into the bee yard with her as she explores images and sensations of beekeeping with all senses alert.” Mark Winston, NEW YORK SUN

“Ellis is the bees’ knees.” GUARDIAN