The History of Bees

I haven’t book-marked any of the pages in this book, so the writing and language haven’t astounded me. No excerpts to share with you.

Neverthless, this was still a lovely book that I tore through in a week.

The History of Bees follows three storylines:

William lives in England in 1851, a hopeless and depressed man who at the beginning is literally unable to get out of bed. We learn that his life has been a failure. He was a student under the scientist Rahm, but greatly disappointed him. He’s got a gazillion daughters and one son, who he has high hopes for. When William drags himself out of his depression, he takes to beekeeping, building an exciting new bee hive that he believes will revolutionise the industry. But, Rahm humiliates him with the knowledge that the hive he’s invented has been done before. Sinking into depression again, William is only brought out of it by his brilliant daughter Charlotte, who has an idea for an even better hive. William, annoyingly, steals her idea and takes the glory for himself – only to find he’s one step behind with that hive too, and it’s been invented across the world a mere months before.

George lives in the United States in 2007, a beekeeper on a modest farm. He struggles against his son Tom who wants to be a writer. George believes Tom is his legacy and should take over the bee farm and build it into a successful business. Sadly, one day he wakes to find a majority of his hives empty. The bees have left in a random event called Colony Collapse Disorder. This means eventual ruin for his family, farm and livelihood – but also marks ruin for his (hint: our) world. (P.s. CCD is a real thing. Yup, I just Googled it).

Tao lives in China in 2098, a labourer who hand-pollinates fruit trees because bees are now extinct. She one day finds her son unable to breathe, and he’s subsequently rushed to a hospital. In this weird dystopian world, the authorities don’t let Tao see her son once he’s whisked away, so she sets out to find what’s happened to him. In her travels, she stumbles through an abandoned Shanghai and explores how dire the world’s situation is. Insects have largely died off, as has much of the world’s population. It’s only through hand pollination that a pocket of humans in China can continue to live. Tao eventually find Wei-Wen, not alive. But, his death surprisingly marks hope for the future. He died due to anaphylactic shock from a bee sting. The bees are back, and it’s up to humanity to take care of them properly this time.

This was a really interesting book that compelled me to keep reading. The three storylines were weaved nicely together to explore the past and future of humanity and our environmental issues that are becoming increasingly evident.

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