{rawcontent 10} If the folk and fancy of beekeeping is delightful, working with bees is downright amazing. And no one speaks of this life more eloquently than Sue Hubbell in "Country Year, Living the Questions" (Random House).

Hubbell, a single woman in her 50's pens a years' worth of essays concerning the many diverse facets of her beekeeping life-from Chevrolet U-joints to requeening, to coyotes and tree frogs. The key to Hubbell's beekeeping experience and, by extension, to her book, is the almost lost art of paying attention. 'Spring beework requires time, patience, some skill and a strong back. It also requires a clear mind and concentration. There is nothing that so focuses the attention as opening a hive of bees. At full summertime strength, a bee colony has about 60,000 bees in it…."

She considers the possibility that competition from South American honey may eventually drive her from the market place.

"But after keeping bees, whatever will I do? My bees cover one thousand square miles of land that I do not own in their foraging flights, flying from flower to flower for which I pay no rent, stealing nectar but pollinating plants in return. It is an unruly, benign kind of agriculture, and making a living by it has such a wild anarchistic, raffish appeal that it unsuits me for any other, except possibly robbing banks."

There are too few ways left to live a life of adventure and wonder-but beekeeping is one of them. Along with the hard work and petty frustrations is the daily interchange with an altogether fascinating culture.

"…spending my days in close and intimate contact with creatures who are structured so differently from humans, and who get on with life in such a different way, is like being a visitor in an alien but ineffably engaging world."

At a time when the entire beekeeping industry is under stress from cheap imported honey and from adverse publicity arising from the Africanized bee, Sue Hubbell does us all a great service. She has brought the beekeepers life-with all its trials and glories-to the public eye.

(So wide an appeal has this book that excerpts have been published in Sports Illustrated, The Nero York Times and Country Journal.) We have hope that after reading A Country Yea r , the non-beekeeper will be more favorably disposed to this industry that is responsible for pollinating $19 billion worth of Ameriean food crops each year.

— Pamela Spence

Vicky Rowe
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