Loving Bees

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Original Air Date: 
July 28, 2018

Bees stir each one of our senses — the zen-like hum, the sweet honey, the waxy smell of wildflowers mixed with hard work, the vibrant orange and black bodies attached to window-paned wings. 
If they land on us, and we are calm, say beekeepers, it will be a gentle touch; they will sting only to save their lives. 

Bees are endangered, but all over the world, people are stepping up to save them — in backyards, science labs, and the abandoned lots of urban Detroit. We explore the art to building a relationship with bees, and the science of how they thrive and what we might do to preserve them for future generations.

Opening the hive
Photo Gallery

Heather Swan is a beekeeper and author — she tells Steve Paulson about what it's meant for her to be "chosen by the bees."

Where Heather and the bees converse

A single empty yellow chair sits next to Heather Swan’s tall, buzzing beehive in her backyard in Madison, Wisconsin. Swan keeps it there to sit next to the bees — some 60,000 insects —and talk with them.

honey as a cure
Sonic Sidebar

A poem by Karina Borowicz, read by Peter Sobol.

Pro-bee is pro-human

When we talk about bees, usually we mean honeybees. Or bumblebees. But that’s just two out of 20,000 different species of bees. Thor Hanson tells Anne about how different species of bees and humanity have developed dependence on one another.

Detroit Hives
Photo Gallery

In many parts of Detroit, there are blighted, abandoned patches of land. Instead of looking the other way, Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey started buying up vacant lots and building bee hives as an act of urban renewal.

Sonic Sidebar

A poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, read by Stephanie Elkins.

many bees

Christof Koch, a leading neuroscientist in the field of consciousness, says bees are smarter than we ever imagined.

A bee's communication infrastructure

Tania Munz recently wrote a biography of Karl von Frisch — the German scientist who cracked the mystery of the honeybee’s waggle dance, which shows the rest of the hive precisely where to find a new food source miles away.

a single bee in a prairie
Sonic Sidebar

A poem by Emily Dickinson, read by Anne Strainchamps.


Show Details 📻
July 28, 2018
May 18, 2019
July 18, 2020
July 17, 2021
June 04, 2022
June 24, 2023
Nicole Lindsey
Timothy Paule
Author and Biologist
Author and Scientist
Tania Munz
Historian of Science
Color photo of Stephanie Elkins smiling in a recording booth
Host, "WPR Morning Classics"
Last modified: 
June 23, 2023