Pardon my pun, but there seems to be a lot of buzz about bees lately. Whether they are worried about their declining numbers, singing their praises as the lifeblood of global fruit production or complaining about a recent sting, people certainly seem interested in the world of bees. I’ve noticed the topic keeps cropping up in my conversations, in the books I read and the documentaries I watch. So when I came across an item on our New Book shelf titled, The Bees, I knew I had my next Trio idea.
This is one of the most inventive books I’ve read in ages. If the premise sounds a bit odd don’t let that stop you from a rewarding reading experience. Set almost entirely inside a vast bee hive, this novel follows Flora 717, a sanitation worker bee who longs for better things. The hive contains a strong hierarchical structure, with sanitation bees firmly on the bottom rung of the social ladder. The Queen reigns supreme and elicits undying devotion from all other bees in the hive. Flora has a curiosity and self-awareness as well as other abilities that stand her apart from other sanitation bees but also lead her into some dangerous territory, especially when she threatens the supremacy of the Queen. Reviewers have compared this tale to titles such as Orwell’s Animal Farm, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and the more recent Hunger Games trilogy. While these sorts of comparisons seem to be a dime a dozen, I did enjoy this anthropomorphic tale not only for what it taught me about the science of bees but also for what it says about human society.
This was the perfect book of non-fiction to read alongside the above-mentioned title. It chronicles the author’s love affair with bees and honey and also incorporates the science of bees as well as research into their importance throughout history and into the present. She describes both her own (often bumbling) experiences as a novice beekeeper as well as the practices of a professional beekeeper who harvests honey in a remote Florida town. It is a wonderful mix of personal anecdotes, historical quotes, fascinating scientific tidbits, recipes, reflections, humour…a book every bit as tasty as the golden nectar it celebrates.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, WPL has added music (and audiobooks) to its Hoopla downloading service. The selection of music is impressive and the app is quite easy to use. Out of curiosity, I typed the word ‘bees’ in as a search term and came across a wonderful self-titled 2009 CD from a Minneapolis band called Mouthful of Bees. Think of a spacey, jazzy version of the Beach Boys. Lush harmonies, simple instrumentation, twinkling pianos and ethereal guitars set against precise drums…this is the kind of hazy, atmospheric pop music that always brings a smile to my face. From what I can tell the band only put out 2 albums before breaking up and I must say that is too bad.