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The History of Bees – a comment

For my birthday Mr F bought me a book called The History of Bees by Maja Lunde. Now as most people know if they read this blog I only read crime fiction. The clue is in the name. So when I opened this I was a little disappointed if I’m honest (the other book was called The Ice which looked much more like me so I didn’t get the locks changed straight away!)

However I do like bees, and I like reading, and sometimes I like Mr F so I thought I’d give it a go. Well I’m glad I did as this was one of the most thought provoking and gripping books I’ve ever read.

The History of Bees is a novel of three parts. In England in 1851 William is a seed merchant who has a vision for a new type of beehive that will make him famous. However he isn’t the only one who has ideas when it comes to bees. In America it’s 2007 and George has a bee farm that he hopes his son will one day inherit. His son however wants a different life from that of his family and wants to go to University. When colony collapse disorder hits the family farm they all have to revaluate their lives. Finally in China it is 2098 and Tao lives with her husband and young son. During the day her role is to climb into the trees and hand pollinate the fruit trees as all the bees have long died out. On a rare day off her son ends up in hospital and Tao is determined to find out the truth about what happened.

This is both an incredibly bleak, yet hopeful novel. Unfortunately the idea of the bees disappearing is not one that is too far into the realms of unbelievable. Colony collapse disorder is a real issue in America that fortunately hasn’t yet hit the UK, and it’s no surprise that without the bees pollination doesn’t happen. (Disney’s ‘B movie’ had it spot on!) This novel explores not only the environmental consequences with the lack of pollination, but also the effect that this has on people’s lives and families.

This is a book that takes a little getting into as the chapters are short and so you feel that the changing viewpoints happen very abruptly. However once I was into the rhythm I was absolutely hooked. The stories are seemingly disparate linked only by bees, but links start to emerge as the book progresses. The characters are all fascinating, and I thought they were all very well written. This really is a fantastic story with an added bonus of teaching you lots about bees.

For anyone with even a small awareness and care of the environmental impact that we are having on the planet this is a must read book, especially today as it is world environment day. This is the day that the UN uses to promote awareness of the impact our lives are having on the environment. This year the focus is on reducing plastic waste, as only around 10% of the plastic ever created is recycled, the rest ends up in landfill or washed up on beaches. So think before you buy things covered in packaging, read this book and then go and plant some flowers. The bees and our environment will thank you for it.

 

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