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A year in the life of New York City’s premier beekeeper, who chronicles his adventures and the quirky personalities he encounters while spreading his infinite knowledge of and passion for the remarkable honey bee.
“Coté’s charming and poignant essay collection delivers the entertainment and smarts required to make real change in how we look at our planet—and ourselves.”—Andrew Zimmern
Considered an “industry legend” by The New York Times, Andrew Coté has one of the most intriguing, challenging, and unique jobs in New York City—maintaining millions of honey bees atop some of the city’s most iconic buildings. His apiaries have crowned the Waldorf Astoria and the Museum of Modern Art; reside on the North Lawn of the United Nations; reign above stores, hotels, restaurants, schools, churches, and synagogues; and are situated in community gardens, and even cemeteries, throughout the five boroughs.
In this debut collection, Coté takes readers with him on his daily apiary adventures over the course of a year, in the city and across the globe. Here, among his many duties, he is called to capture swarms that have clustered on fire hydrants, air-conditioning units, or street-vendor umbrellas. Annually, he travels with his father to regions like remote Fijian islands, rural Uganda, Haiti, Ecuador, or Iraq with his organization, Bees Without Borders, where he teaches beekeepers how to increase their honey yield and income via beekeeping endeavors.
Written with Coté’s trademark humor, acumen, and a healthy dose of charm, Honey and Venom illuminates the obscure culture of New York City “beeks” and the biology of the bees themselves, from the humble drone to the fittingly named worker to the queen herself—who is more a slave than a monarch. The hive world, Coté reveals, is full of strivers and slackers, givers and takers, and even some insect promiscuity—startlingly similar to the prickly human variety.
For Coté, a fourth-generation beekeeper, this is a family tradition, and this personal significance pervades his celebration of the romance and mystery of bees, their honey, and the beekeepers whose lives revolve around these most magical creatures.
About the Author
Andrew Coté is New York City’s most well-known beekeeper. A fourth-generation apiarist, he is founder of the New York City Beekeepers Association, executive director of the nonprofit Bees Without Borders, polyglot, Fulbright scholar, black belt in aikido, and former college professor. Coté and his bees have been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, CNN, CBS, Cake Boss, Dr. Oz, Nightline, Good Morning America, and Today, and in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The New York Times, HuffPost, and many other news outlets around the world. Coté also runs Andrew’s Honey out of the NYC Union Square Greenmarket.
“A fascinating story of Coté's real-life experiences with bees, full of unexpected plot swerves that take him all over New York City and around the world on bee-related adventures. I enjoyed this book enormously."—Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia
“A fourth-generation beekeeper, Coté writes with wit, insight, and great empathy for the imperiled honeybee. The seasonal rhythms of Coté’s bees mirror and often juxtapose the frenzied chaos of the human world outside their hives. Full of strivers and slackers, givers and takers, Honey and Venom is a fascinating story of urban beekeeping, social climbing, and the enduring power of family.”—Mollie Katzen, author of Moosewood Cookbook
“A fun and informative read, Honey and Venom showcases Coté’s many talents, as both a masterful beekeeper and a fine storyteller. His passion and dedication to the honeybee is as unwavering as it is inspiring.”—Susan Spungen, author of Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings
“In Honey and Venom, the stories are more than just the amusing misadventures of an urban beekeeper—they are a richly layered intersection of beekeeping, art, history, and culture.”—Hilary Kearney, author of QueenSpotting and The Little Book of Bees
“Andrew Coté has left a valuable and indelible mark on urban beekeeping thanks to his tireless efforts in New York City. And even more impressively, he’s made a global contribution by teaching beekeeping as a sustainable source of income to communities around the world. Delivered with charm, humor, and his compelling insights about honeybees, people, and culture, Honey and Venom helps us understand how the little bee has made such a big impact on Coté’s life."—Howland Blackiston, author of Beekeeping for Dummies
“Honey and Venom is A Year in Provence for our modern times.”—Andrew Zimmern, chef, author, and teacher
“An amazing memoir . . . The book is simultaneously deeply personal and colorfully captivating. . . . Coté’s mastery over words alone is enough to make every last page utterly captivating. The way he is able to tell stories within stories is phenomenal. . . . I wholeheartedly recommend Honey and Venom. . . . One needs not to have any experience with honey bees or their keepers to learn a lot and be enthralled by Coté’s writing and the stories he tells.”—But Why Tho?
“Coté shares his exploits as one of the best-known beekeepers in the community; he is routinely called in to consult on many interesting cases, and we, the lucky readers, get to hear some of them in this charming read. VERDICT: Fascinating, not only for the beekeeping information, but also for the urban-wildlife interactions involving bees. A good companion for anyone contemplating apiculture.”—Library Journal