ASU Book Group: 'The Art of the Bee' by Robert E. Page, Jr.
The ASU Book Group's January 2022 reading selection is "The Art of the Bee: Shaping the Environment from Landscapes to Societies" by Robert E. Page, Jr. The book group is open to all in the ASU community and meets monthly from noon–1 p.m. with two different options for attendance: either in-person at the Piper Writers House or virtually on Zoom. In-person attendees are invited to join the author for lunch after at the University Club, no-host.
Haven't read the book? Come anyway! Authors are always present.
The impact of bees on our world is immeasurable. Bees are responsible for the evolution of the vast array of brightly colored flowers and for engineering the niches of multitudes of plants, animals and microbes. They've painted our landscapes with flowers through their pollination activities, and they have evolved the most complex societies to aid their exploitation of the environment.
The parallels between human and insect societies have been explored by countless sociobiologists. Traditional texts present stratified layers of knowledge where the reader excavates levels of biological organization, each building on the last. In this book, Robert E. Page, Jr., delves deep into the evolutionary history and the sociality of bees. He presents fundamental biology-not in layers, but wrapped around interesting themes and concepts, and in ways designed to explore and understand each concept. Page uses the social contract as a way to examine the complex social system of bee societies, a contract that has been written over millions of years of social evolution on the fabric of DNA.
The book examines the coevolution of bees and flowering plants, bees as engineers of the environment, the evolution of sociality, the honey bee as a superorganism and how it evolves and the mating behavior of the queen. The resulting book explores the ways human societies and bee colonies are similar — not from a common ancestry with shared genes for sociality, but from shared fundamentals of political philosophy.
Robert E. Page, Jr. is Provost Emeritus at ASU.
About the book group:
The ASU Book Group meetings and selections for 2021-2022 are:
- Sep. 29: “A Good Map of All Things” and “Not Go Away Is My Name” by Alberto Álvaro Ríos
- Oct. 27: “Blackface,” by Ayanna Thompson
- Nov. 17: “Now in Color” by Jacqueline Balderrama
- Dec. 15: “Doodling for Writers” by Rebecca Fish Ewan
- Jan. 26: "The Art of the Bee" by Robert E. Page, Jr.
- Feb. 23: "Everyday Life in the Aztec World" co-authored by Michael Smith
- Mar. 30: “Perspectives of Five Kuwaiti Women in Leadership Roles” by Souad T. Ali
- Apr. 27: “Appleseed” by Matt Bell
The ASU Book Group is sponsored as a community outreach initiative by the Department of English and organized in partnership with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.