My Facebook feed frequently features posts urging us to Save The Bees; I now know what to do if I find a bee on the ground (feed it sugar water in a teaspoon and move it to safety); my friends and I are wont to shake our fists and rant at Monsanto and GM crops. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is known outside of apiarist circles and we are worried. Very worried. It is against this backdrop that The History of Bees sits, a book that looks at how science treated bees in the past, the present and in the near future.
In the 19th century William Savage, a vain and earnest young man, designs a revolutionary new hive so that honey can be harvested, and bees studied, more easily.
In 2007 George insists on building his own hives using plans his family have always used (Savage’s), never buying in pre-fabricated hives, living on the thin line between profit and loss as he travels the country with his bees, taking them to pollinate other farmers’ crops. He carries the weight of his family tradition carefully and seriously and wants his son to take over when he finishes college. When CCD strikes neighbouring bee farms, he trusts that his way, his hives, will make the difference and keep his bees safe.
In the late 20th Century Tao and Kuan, parents of Wei Wen, work as pollinators in a world where there are no bees and china only manages to grow some food because it has vast numbers of poorly paid labourers to perform the arduous task.
Ms Lunde deftly weaves the three story strands showing us how the demands of science and technology, and the arrogance of humankind has detrimentally affected the natural world. This is also a book about parents and sons, family traditions, and love.
Above all, this is a book about hope and that maybe, just maybe, it’s not too late for us all. I’m off to plant some flowers.