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Praise for Robbing the Bees:

Fans of Sue Hubbell and Diane Ackerman will take to this like – well, bees to honey.Six years ago, first-time author Holley Bishop bought a house in Connecticut, just a few hours north of her New York City apartment. While visiting a beekeeping neighbor, she tasted some recently harvested honey and felt as though she’d “really experienced honey for the first time.” And there began an obsession. Bishop not only began to read everything she could find about honey, she began to keep bees herself. She needed a mentor and was happily adopted by Donald Smiley, a beekeeper in Wewahitchka, Florida. Robbing the Bees is the story of her apiary love, part memoir, chronicling Bishop’s beekeeping learning-curve, and part reportage – Smiley, with his fraying baseball cap and his cup of coffee, “brewed to opacity,” jumps to life early on and makes a very good guide to this world of the beehive. The assorted illustrations … are, as it were, icing on a very sweet, very sumptuous cake. Not to mention the appendix of recipes: the Robbing the Bees martini is simple, and to die for. As gold as its subject.


When former New York literary agent Bishop bought a Connecticut farmstead, she began keeping bees as a way of savoring her newfound reverence for nature in the edible form of fresh honey, a passion that now yields this engaging study of the history, science and art of beekeeping. Tying it all together is a profile of salt-of-the-earth commercial beekeeper Donald Smiley, harvester of specialty honey gathered from tupelo tree blossoms in the drowsy hum of the Florida panhandle, and emblem of the fruitful alliance of two legs with six. Bishop's … combination of engrossing natural history and down-home reportage make this a fitting homage to one of nature's most admirable creatures.  

—Publisher's Weekly

“Like gardening and troutfishing, bee-keeping is one of those endlessly fascinating engagements with the natural world that spawns a particularly deep and lively literature. Add Holley Bishop’s Robbing the Bees to the shelf. Her love affair with honeybees combines natural and social history with gastronomy and memoir to produce a delicious reading experience.” 

—Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire

“Holley Bishop has gathered rich nectar from the pages of history and dribbled it around a fascinating portrait of a modern-day beekeeper. Bishop reveals the secrets of ancient hive hunting and depicts with a keen eye and dry wit one man’s mission to nurse the world’s oldest elixir from his hives, demonstrating that the harvesting of honey still requires a respectful negotiation with Mother Nature and her winged minions. Holley Bishop has found real magic in the world, and the result is delicious.”

—Trevor Corson, author of The Secret Life of Lobsters

“How sweet it is! With a fascinating mix of biology, history, and business, Robbing the Bees is a savory reading treat. World figures as different as Aristotle, Martha Washington, and Winnie the Pooh all have succumbed to the power of honey. Read this book and you will, too.”

—Mark Obmascik, author of The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession

“With this elegant new book, Holley Bishop joins Sue Hubbell and Edwin Way Teale as one of the most engaging ambassadors to the bees we’ve ever had. She gives the long, astonishing romance of humankind and honeybees a full and memorable telling, spiced with the contemporary drama of a beekeeper named Smiley and sweetened with a super-full of recipes. Written with grace and wit, Robbing the Bees is as seductive as an open jar of Tupelo honey.”

—Robert Michael Pyle, author of Chasing Monarchs, Wintergreen, and Walking the High Ridge

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