Science Book a Day Interviews Mark Winston


Special thanks to Mark Winston for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – Bee Time: Lessons From the Hive

Mark L. Winston is that rare individual, a scientist who can speak eloquently to the public.  Recognized as one of the world’s leading expert on bees and pollination, Mark has had an illustrious career researching, teaching, writing and commenting on bees and agriculture, environmental issues and science policy.  – From Mark’s Homepage

Mark’s Homepage:

#1 – What was the impetus for Bee Time?

I started out to write a book about experiential education, a teaching/learning book that incorporated my interests in dialogue, experiential learning and community engagement. The title was Dialogue in Bee Time: Experiencing your Education. I wrote close to 30,000 words before realizing it wasn’t working and putting it aside for a year or two, when I realized the book I wanted to write was not about dialogue using the occasional bee metaphor, but actually about bees. I’ve spent a lifetime learning from bees, and wanted to share those lessons with readers.

#2 – You’ve worked with bees for 30 years. What is it about bees that has led you to devote so much time to them?

Bees were a natural fit for my personality, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say my personality grew into the person I was meant to be from being exposed to bees. Bees are highly collaborative, putting society first, which appeals to my sense of collegiality and common purpose. In addition, bees are present in the world around them, and listen to each other, qualities I try to emulate in my relationships with other people and with the nature around us.

#3 – You talk about how many of the problems bees have are due to humans. Are people you speak to surprised by this?

I think it’s the kind of surprise that comes when we articulate something we knew intuitively all along. We know we are doing damage to the natural world around us, but our actions don’t always reflect that intuitive understanding.

#4 – Is your book a clarion call? Are you optimistic about the future of bees?

I am optimistic, but my optimism is tempered by the realization that it will take considerable action on our part to preserve those important pollinators. We must be proactive, and soon, at reducing pesticide use and improving the habitats necessary for bees to thrive, or our future won’t be very positive, either. But we humans have that unusual trait of creating problems and then solving them, and I’m hopeful we will solve the problems we’ve created for bees, and in the process improve our own place in the world.

#5 – Are you working on any new books/projects you can tell us about?

Just a dim whisper of a book at the moment. I recently had a room named after me at my university, the Mark L. Winston Collaboration Room, and a friend suggested that would be an excellent title for a new book, The Collaboration Room. I’d love to write a book about collaboration in all its forms and twists and turns, so perhaps that will move from a vague idea onto the printed page someday. At the moment I’m sill immersed mentally in Bee Time, and it will be awhile before a new book becomes a more solid undertaking.

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