Tania MunzApr 25, 2017
The Dancing Bees
Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language
University of Chicago Press 2016
Tania Munz's new book is a dual biography: both of Austrian-born experimental physiologist Karl von Frisch, and of the honeybees he worked with as experimental, communicating creatures. The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language (University of Chicago Press, 2016) alternates between chapters that take us into the work and life of a fascinating scientist amid the Nazi rise to power, and bee vignettes that chart the transformations of bees in the popular and scientific imagination over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Readers follow von Frisch from his early intimate connection with a small Brazilian parakeet that lived with the family while von Frisch was a boy, to his work on the sensory powers of fish and bees, to his work on bee communication and beyond. Munz introduces us not just to von Frisch's texts, lectures, and experiments, but also to his work making films and his struggles to live and work under Nazi power. Munz's book is both compellingly argued and a pleasure to read!