6 brilliant new books about bees

Posted by Liz Earle Beauty Co. September 7, 2018 | 3 min read

Bees, with their mysterious methods and urgent plight, have become a buzz (sorry) subject for some of the biggest literary launches of the last year. From an exquisitely illustrated children’s book, to a bestselling dystopian fiction, these are our favourite new titles bringing the humble bumble and honeybee to life.

Bee Quest by Dave Goulson

In the follow up to A Sting in the Tale and A Buzz in the Meadow, Dave Goulson − a British biologist, conservationist, and Professor of Biology − brings us Bee Quest, a hunt for the world’s rarest bees. In a kind of naturalist travelogue, Goulson journeys as far as the Ecquadorian jungle, and as close to home as West Sussex, reporting his sometimes troubling findings in his own imaginative, indomitable style.

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Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson

In the wonderfully comprehensive Buzz, biologist and author Thor Hanson examines not only bees’ evolution as a species (spoiler alert: bees are actually wasps turned vegetarian), but our complex relationship with them, and the food we eat, over the centuries. Shifting the focus away from the more widely documented honeybee, to the lesser-known leafcutters, diggers and solitary masons, Buzz serves to illustrate what a devastating loss bees would be to humans and in the same breath, leads the call for us to rush to their aid.

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The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

Trace the stories of three generations of beekeepers from the past, present and future in Maja Lunde’s evocative literary debut, The History of the Bees. From their cultivation in Victorian England, to a modern-day farm in the US and finally, a Chinese dystopian future where bees cease to exist entirely, three separate narratives collide into one haunting tale that reminds us all of our delicate relationship with nature.

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The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner

If we want to help the bees we need to start young, and this beautifully illustrated children’s book is a great place to start. Learn about the life of a worker bee, the importance of pollination (along with other insects, bees are responsible for a third of every mouthful of food we eat), as well as bees’ untimely decline and what we can do about it. Strictly, yes, it’s a kid’s book, but adults will find it fascinating too.

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A Honeybee Heart has Five Openings by Helen Jukes, 2018

Falling into the wildly popular nature memoir genre, you don’t need to be a bee enthusiast to enjoy this book, but it will help. Finding herself trapped in a meaningless ‘urban grind of office politics and temporary addresses’ and seeking something to anchor her, Helen Jukes embarks on her first year of solo beekeeping, tending a colony she has been gifted by friends − bees being an ancient symbol of good luck. What ensues is a meticulously charted tale of her progress within the hive, in tandem with her own personal journey. Fascinating and life affirming in equal measure. 

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Listening to the Bees by Mark L.
Winston and Renee Sarojini Saklikar

In a collaborative effort between an award-winning scientist and a celebrated poet, Listening to the Bees delves deep into the mystery and unexplained phenomena that surrounds the bee, and which may never be explained by modern day research. Combining personal essays based on Winston’s 40 years’ of field research, with poems by Saklikar created in response to this vast body of work, the book poses deeper profound questions about our own purpose and existence as a species.

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