Thomas Dyer Seeley

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Tom Seeley with observation hive of honey bees, in hut that he designed and constructed. Cranberry Lake Biological Station, New York, ca. 1992.
Thomas Dyer Seeley
Thomas Seeley writing on a blackboard.jpg
Born(1952-06-17)June 17, 1952
Ellis Hollow, New York, US
Alma materDartmouth College, Harvard University
Scientific career
FieldsHoney bee behavior
InstitutionsCornell University
Doctoral advisorBert Hölldobler and E. O. Wilson

Thomas Dyer Seeley is the Horace White Professor in Biology in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. He is the author of several books on honeybee behavior, including Honeybee Democracy (2010) and The Wisdom of the Hive (1995) [1] He was the recipient of the Humboldt Prize in Biology in 2001. He primarily studies swarm intelligence by investigating how bees collectively make decisions.[2]


Seeley was born on June 17, 1952. He grew up in Ellis Hollow, and went to elementary, middle and high schools in Ithaca, NY. As a high school student he held summer jobs with Royse P. Murphy, a plant geneticist at Cornell University, and Roger Morse, at the Dyce Laboratory for Honey Bee Studies at Cornell.[3] Seeley married Robin Hadlock and the couple had two children.


Seeley enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1970, intending to follow the premedical curriculum, but changed his focus after reading E. O. Wilson’s book The Insect Societies.[3] Seeley received his A.B. (summa cum laude) in Chemistry from Dartmouth College in 1974 and, four years later, his Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University. His Ph.D. advisors were Bert Hölldobler and E. O. Wilson.[4]


Seeley held the following academic appointments:[5]

Year Appointment
1978-1980 Junior Fellow, Society of Fellows, Harvard University
1980-1986 Assistant and Associate Professor, Yale University
1986-1992 Assistant and Associate Professor, Cornell University
1992–present Professor of Biology, Cornell University
1993-1994 Visiting Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin
2001-2004 Visiting professor, University of Würzburg
2005-08, 13-14 chairman, Cornell University, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior
2013- Horace White Professor in Biology, Cornell University

Honors and awards[edit]

In 1966 Seeley was an Eagle Scout. In 1974 he received the Hartshorne Chemistry Medal from Dartmouth College. Four years later he was elected a Junior Fellow at Harvard’s Society of Fellows and in 1983 he was awarded the Morse Prize Fellowship from Yale University. For a year from 1992, he was a Guggenheim Fellow and then the next year got a Fellowship from Berlin’s Institute for Advanced Study. In 1994 he received the Hambleton Award from the Eastern Apicultural Society.

In 1998 he received the Gold Medal for the Best Science Book, (The Wisdom of the Hive). Seeley received the Alexander von Humboldt’s Senior Scientist Prize in 2001 and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that same year. In 2008 he was an elected fellow for the Animal Behavior Society and in 2013 he gave the keynote address at the 33rd International Apimondia Congress in Kyiv.[6] In 2017 he was awarded fellowship to American Association for the Advancement of Science.[7]

A species of bee, Neocorynurella seeleyi, was named after him in 1997.[8][6] Seeley was awarded the Golden Goose Award in 2016 for his work on The Honeybee Algorithm.[9]

In 2019 he became a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.[10]


Seeley has authored 5 books, at least 1 newspaper article,[11] and over 175 scholarly publications.[12]


  • Honeybee Ecology: A Study of Adaptation in Social Life, published by Princeton University Press[13]
  • The Wisdom of the Hive: The Social Physiology of Honeybee Colonies[13]
  • Honeybee Democracy, published by the Princeton University Press.[13]
  • Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Beehunting[14][15]
  • The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild[16]


  1. ^ Behavior, Cornell University - Department of Neurobiology and. "Seeley Short CV". Archived from the original on 2015-05-30.
  2. ^ Carl Zimmer (March 2012). "The Secret Life of Bees". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  3. ^ a b Seeley, Thomas D. (7 January 2022). "Remembrances of a Honey Bee Biologist". Annual Review of Entomology. 67 (1): 13–25. doi:10.1146/annurev-ento-033121-100228. ISSN 0066-4170. PMID 34582265. S2CID 238217631. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Tom Seeley". Bee Culture. 2015-11-20. Archived from the original on 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  5. ^ "Thomas D. Seeley Short CV". Cornell University. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Irish Beekeepers Summer Course 2015" (PDF). The Federation of Irish Beekeepers Association. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 February 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Five Cornell Faculty Members Recognized by World's Largest Integrative Scientific Society | The Cornell Daily Sun". 28 November 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  8. ^ Engel, Michael S.; Klein, Barrett A. (1997-01-01). "Neocorynurella, a New Genus of Augochlorine Bees from South America (Hymenoptera: Halictidae)". Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift. 44 (2): 155–163. doi:10.1002/mmnd.19970440207. ISSN 1860-1324.
  9. ^ "2016: The Honey Bee Algorithm". The Golden Goose Award. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
  10. ^ "Thomas Dyer Seeley". German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  11. ^ Seeley, Thomas. "The Five Habits of Highly Effective Hives". Harvard Business Review. Archived from the original on 2016-11-20. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  12. ^ Behavior, Cornell University - Department of Neurobiology and. "Seeley Publications". Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  13. ^ a b c "Thomas D. Seeley Biologist". Cornell University. Archived from the original on 23 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Calling all bee hunters: Thomas Seeley on Following the Wild Bees". Princeton University Press Blog. 2016-06-01. Archived from the original on 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  15. ^ "Thomas Seeley - Science Friday". Science Friday. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  16. ^ Seeley, Thomas D. (28 May 2019). The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild. Princeton, New Jersey. ISBN 9780691166766. OCLC 1059264208.