Review Blog

Jan 09 2018

The history of bees by Maja Lunde

cover image

Simon and Schuster, 2017. ISBN 9781471165689
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Highly recommended. The history of bees is told as three story strands in different settings and times: William, a biologist in England in 1852; George, a beekeeper in the United States in 2007, and Tao, a worker in China in 2098. They are separate stories that gradually draw closer together, told in short alternating chapters that grab your attention and make you want to read on. The theme of bees and their role in pollination is what unites the stories but there are also overlapping themes of parents and their dreams and expectations of their children. It is here that Lunde's writing is most powerful, as she captures so subtly and perfectly the misunderstandings, the unexpressed feelings, silences and disappointments between husband and wife, and between parent and child.
At the same time we learn the history of bees, of the invention of the first man-made beehives, the burgeoning industry of beekeeping and commercial pollination, the disaster of Colony Collapse Disorder, and the repercussions for future humankind with the loss of the bee and its pivotal role in nature. There is so much we can learn from the bee - the unity and dedication of the bee community is contrasted with the selfishness and self-centredness of man. This book sounds an environmental warning about where humans are headed; it is a story painted in pictures with the lives of three families who also seem on the brink of collapse, struggling to understand each other and live together in harmony. However, there is hope, and William, George and Tao each contribute to the answer.
Helen Eddy

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