THROUGH THE ages, bees and their honey have been of interest to doctors, philosophers, scientists, politicians, artists, writers and architects, according to Hattie Ellis.

She tells of how such people have found inspiration in the honey bee; plus sheds light on its mysterious ways such as how it communicates by dances, and how as many as 100,000 can live and work in total discipline in a hive.

Travelling from heather moorland to inner city, the Sussex-based author talks to extraordinary beekeepers from New York to New Zealand about how honey is produced and used today. She also explores the insects” dark side, with a look at the savage swarms of killer African bees found in America.

Some of the many unanswered questions surrounding it are also touched upon, such as why European honey bees stayed in their hives as Chernobyl spread its toxic dust, and whether honey aids longevity.

* Sweetness & Light: The Mysterious History of the Honey Bee by Hattie Ellis published by Sceptre, 16.99.