The Bees

The Bees

Book - 2014
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Brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death. Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive's survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous. But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all - daring to challenge the Queen's fertility - enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society - and lead her to unthinkable deeds.
Publisher: Toronto : Ecco/HarperCollins, c2014.
ISBN: 9781443433587
Characteristics: 340 p. ; 24 cm.


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May 06, 2019

Flora 717 is a newly-hatched honeybee within an orchard hive. Born into the sanitation worker class, but noteworthy among her lowly colleagues due to a mutation enabling her to speak, she is noticed by a priestess who introduces Flora to a number of other possible tasks and castes within the hive. Eventually settling into foraging, she comes to the realization that there is truly something unusual about her when, to her horrified surprise, she suddenly lays an egg!

I'm so impressed by Paull's notion to write an adult novel from the point of view of an insect. It's unlike anything I've read previously, and I was mesmerized, completing the book in just two days. There is lots of food for thought within, from fascinating information regarding the life cycle and social organization of bees themselves, to concerns about pesticides and the environment. You may well forget it's a work of fiction.

Feb 11, 2019

Such a moving, relevant, fascinating perspective on sacrifice and motherhood. I came across this book shortly before becoming a mother myself and this book has become very special to me. What an excellent novel.

Sep 04, 2018

A fun read kind of like Animal Farm or Watership Down only with honey bees. Even though the bees are anthropomorphized like crazy, there are plenty of bee life facts in the story. Yes, some of it is kind of humorous: bees arguing, power struggles, cute bee babies, drones demanding attention etc. but adventures in foraging, avoiding spiders, fighting wasps, spending a night outside the hive are all exciting and even thrilling. I loved this book and its plucky heroine.

Jul 01, 2018

Great quick summer read.

The story is centred around a low-caste bee named Flora. Due to her size and intelligence, she quickly moves up the ranks and in doing so, also causes her own set of problems throughout the story.

It is an entertaining read, nothing too heavy. I have always found bees interesting and I found myself stopping to put the book down a few times and do some research online. I enjoyed it immensely.

Mar 02, 2017

Watership Down it is not. It is good juvenile literature with a simple tale and some interesting bee facts.

Oct 07, 2016

Flora 717 begins to suspect deception and corruption in the hive. A bee-view fantasy for fans of Watership Down and Redwall, that is both brutal and captivating.

Aug 16, 2016

Immensely enjoyable read, although scientific facts do not seem to get in the way of the story line. Our heroine, Flora 717, gave birth not once but thee times by immaculate conception! But awesome descriptions of sensual delight. A wonderful read.

Aug 08, 2016

Interesting read but skip the Epilogue and it's a better book.

Jul 12, 2016

This book is very detailed in ways that is fascinating and very true; this book goes through the hive's daily activities and includes many of the problems the bees face. The story is very gripping, just as things turns grim the bees finds out how to turn it around, especially at the end, where the climax is.

Jun 17, 2016

I think the concept of this novel is interesting and having studied animal behavior, most of the bee behavior is pretty accurate, if adapted to make the story better. An interesting read, especially if you're into nature, behavior, or bees!

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May 25, 2014


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