Simon Fraser University professor Mark Winston’s book on his lifetime as a world-leading bee expert – Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive – won this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award for nonfiction. According to the awards jury, Winston’s book “distils a life’s devotion to the study of bees into a powerful and lyrical meditation on humanity. This compelling book inspires us to reevaluate our own relationships both with each other and the natural world. Vital reading for our time.”
In Bee Time, Winston investigates the many influences bees have had on human society, and what we can learn from how bees have responded to their own societal challenges. Earlier this year, the book, published by Harvard University Press, was lauded with a Canadian Science Writers’ Association award.
“I look to the Governor General list every fall for good books to read, so for Bee Time to be on the list is an enormous thrill, and an extraordinary honor,” said Winston, who shares his reflections on three decades as a bee biologist in his award-winning book.
As one of the world’s authorities on bees and pollination, Winston has devoted his career to research and teaching, as well as writing and providing commentary on bees, environmental issues and science policy. Now a professor and senior fellow at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue and founder of the Semester in Dialogue program (launched in 2002), he has written six previous books on topics from bees to the environment, and has been a consistently sought-out expert by national and international media.
“From altering our understanding of agricultural ecosystems to how urban planners are looking to bees to design more nature-friendly cities, I tried in Bee Time to offer practical views about the many lessons we can learn from bees, but also to express how grateful I am to bees for what they’ve taught me about collaboration, communication and interaction,” explained Winston, who continues to write a blog, winstonhive.com. A New York Times editorial he wrote (July 15, 2014) on the book was the most read NYT article for two consecutive days.
Among his many accolades, Winston is a co-winner of the Science Council of British Columbia’s 1992 Gold Medal in the natural sciences for his role in discoveries that resulted in an entirely new understanding of how bees communicate.
Governor General’s Literary Award recipients receive $25,000 and are celebrated at a gala event at Rideau Hall. This year, nearly 1,000 titles were submitted for the seven English-language categories. The awards are presented annually by the Canada Council for the Arts. For more details and a complete list of winners, see ggbooks.ca.