Acclaimed beekeeper Andrew Coté chronicles a year of hard work, adventure and just plain fun in Honey and Venom: Confessions of an Urban Beekeeper. Beekeeping is almost as old as civilization, and the Coté family has been doing it for four generations. "I bleed honey. It runs deep in my veins," Coté explains. His easygoing narrative, recounting his apian experience from his childhood in Connecticut to his current position as president of the New York City Beekeepers Association, will educate and entertain even the most bee-phobic reader.
Coté structures the memoir around the 12 months of both the bees' and the beekeeper's tasks. Winter months in the northeast are quiet, so Coté uses the time to visit beekeepers around the world. His visits to Africa and Asia reveal common interests--"most obviously a shared affection for the little four-winged creatures that transcended language barriers." His nonprofit organization, Bees Without Borders, works to "alleviate poverty via beekeeping endeavors." In summer, bees are active and the possibility for unfortunate interactions between humans and bees means that Coté is on call to, among other things, remove swarms from high above Times Square, pose with bees for advertising and capture bees from neglected hives in Queens. "Beekeeping in New York City is never boring," Coté points out, and thanks to this delightful memoir, readers will have a new appreciation for these complex insects and the humans who care for them. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.