08 March 2020

Review: The Bees by Laline Paull

The Bees by Laline Paull book cover
I love bees. It's hard not to. They're crucial to the environment and the pollination of many flowers, fruits and vegetables. They produce honey and beeswax and if I didn't live in the city, I fancy I'd like to own and tend my own beehive.

The Bees by Laline Paull is the tale of one bee's life in her hive and I was chuffed to receive it as a Christmas gift in 2018. Flora 717 is born a sanitation bee, but she doesn't quite fit in due to her bigger body and ugly features. She has other skills though and learns to be a productive member of the hive.

You might imagine a bee's life is dull, but we follow Flora 717 around all of the departments of her hive and learn the tasks each of her fellow hive members undertakes. Each bee knows their duty and they're united by the hive mind and their love for the Queen or Mother bee. Scent plays a key role in Flora's life and in the book, with scent and smells appearing on almost every page as it forms a critical part of Flora's communication with other bees and the environment around her.

It's not a spoiler to disclose that Flora 717 also talks. While I generally don't like novels with talking animals, this one falls into the same category of books as Watership Down which manages to successfully bridge this divide. However, if you have a problem with bees exhibiting other human like behaviour - curtseying, praying and using their 'hands' - then this might not be for you.

It was a joy to follow Flora 717 as she fulfilled her various duties, tried to understand her place and make a valuable contribution to the hive. I enjoyed learning about the waggle dance, the making of honey, the laying of eggs and all manner of bee activities through Flora's eyes and longed to know more about bees in general.

Much happens throughout the book as the bees move from crisis to crisis and the action never stops. This book can also be read on a deeper level, with ample references to an overarching hierarchy and religion governing the bees. Themes of purpose, leadership, devotion, duty, sacrifice, deformity, class, age and gender are all explored through the activities within the hive and this made for an interesting and unique read.

You can buzz on over and read a FREE SAMPLE of The Bees by Laline Paull and decide for yourself.

Carpe Librum!

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

  1. This sounds like a fun read.

    1. Thanks Marg, it was a fun read, but there's also a dark side to life in the hive, just as in Watership Down.

  2. I’m allergic to bees so I’m not quite as enamoured with them even though I know they are crucial to environmental health. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    1. Sounds serious ShelleyRae, do you need to carry an epipen?


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