HarperCollins Publishers (10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022), 2014.
352 pages, hardcover. $25.99.
Reviewed by Karen Schaefer
I’ve just lapped up The Bees, by Laline Paull, the latest honey trap in fiction that, to me, purports to be the Watership Down of the honeybee world.
While I have some familiarity with hive colony collapse and all the factors that may have led to it, including the new culprit pesticide class, the neonicotinoids, I was blown away by how thoroughly this unknown-to-me writer researched the topic and incorporated science into her storytelling. The book is actually billed in some libraries as sci-fi.
The main character is a sanitation bee named Flora 717, Flora being a hive name for sanitation bees of all sorts, not a personal name. Flora grows beyond her sanitation bee status and eventually becomes mother of a new queen, which may be anthropomorphic. But it’s a whole lot less anthropomorphic than Watership Down was in its day, at least to my way of thinking. And although humans barely figure into the story, the plot is amazingly fast-moving and gripping.
(Karen Schaefer is a freelance journalist and independent radio producer in Oberlin, Ohio.)
(See also The Beekeeper’s Bible.)