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Now it’s not often I write reviews about books without poems, but felt I had to share the one I’ve just finished – The Bees by Laline Paull.

2016-01-15 16.45.04

Originally published by Fourth Estate in 2014, it explores the intricate workings of a society of bees, their queen, the hive and the laws to obey dependent on where you are in the hive’s hierarchy. The protagonist is Flora 717, a sanitation worker, the lowest of the low and to make matters worse, she presents to us as ‘obscenely ugly’ and ‘excessively large’, an abnormality of her kin-sisters. But due to her strength, endurance and ability to forage the most sought after nectar, she is respected and given special dispensation until, that is, she breaks the most sacred of laws. And that’s where I’ll stop in case you want to find out.

I particularly enjoyed learning about what happens in a hive; how bees operate and are deeply affected by seasons; their interactions with wasps referred to as the ‘lesser cousins’ (although this also sums up how the wasps view the bees!); the descriptions of flowers and the anatomy of a bee; the way foraging is ‘danced’ to enable others to follow their flight path; the power of the hive and the queen’s love; it is all simply riveting and pulls you in.

I highly recommend this book; it’s a fascinating sociological read, makes me value the honeybee all the more.

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