The Dancing Bees is a romantic title, evoking fantasy and fairy tale rather than scientific rigour, but actually this book is a story of fearsome determination. It is a biography of Karl von Frisch, who discovered the language of the honeybee, but Tania Munz’s account is much more besides, as it reveals the scientist’s struggle for survival under the Nazi regime.
Although I kept bees for many years, I had no idea of the work which won Von Frisch a Nobel prize in 1973. I was first introduced to the waggle-dance, this marvel of the animal kingdom, in a laboratory at the University of Sussex. Francis Ratnieks, professor of apiculture, sat me in front of one of his observation hives where you could watch the colony of bees at work through a glass panel.