The History of Bees by Maja Lunde, Diane Oatley (Translator)

1. First lines. 2. Publisher: Simon & Schuster 3. Honey bee macro By wildxplorer Licence: CC BY 2.0 via flickr 4. Photographs of chapter headings.
I absolutely loved this book.
Imagine … a world without bees.

In 2098, Chinese workers are hand-pollinating fruit trees, because there are no bees left in the world. In 2007, a successful bee-keeper in Ohio, is devastated when his bees succumb to Colony Collapse Disorder. In 1851, a seed merchant is motivated to build better beehives to facilitate easier access to the hives. The families from each time period, as well as having a connection with bees, also have difficulties with parent-child relationships. The book also has a very strong theme of the effects on the environment that human beings cause.

“I picked Tom up at the station in Autumn. He hadn’t been home since last summer. I didn’t know why, hadn’t asked. Maybe I couldn’t bear to hear the answer.”

“The little plastic container was full of the gossamer gold, carefully weighed out. I tried to transfer invisible portions lightly out of the container and over into the trees. Each individual blossom was to be dusted with the tiny brush of hen feathers, from hens scientifically cultivated for precisely that purpose. No feathers of artificial fibers had proven nearly as effective.”

“A single person’s life, a single person’s flesh, blood, body fluids, nerve signals, thoughts, fears and dreams meant nothing,”

– Quotes from the book.
  • The Atlantic: “But the novel smartly relies limitedly on its ecological-disaster framework and instead gains its best footing in the quiet and intimate relationships it depicts between its characters. At times, it’s easy to forget you’re reading a novel exploring the consequences of a species extinction—instead, you’ve become invested in the lives of the people whose stories it follows.”
  • Publisher’s Weekly: “Lunde’s novel provides both a multifaceted story and a convincing and timely wake-up call.”
First published in Norway.
Other editions.

Awards: 2015 Winner, Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize

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