By: Laline Paull
This is the motto that must be followed to stay alive in the hive. The Bees is a uniquely written story that is told from the perspective of Flora 717, a bee born into the sanitation unit. Flora 717's hive is in an orchard and danger comes from many sources, both outside and in; the queen they must worship ages, deformed eggs are being found, forager bees are coming back poisoned, wasps, spiders and crows lurk above the hive and it is being said that winter will come twice. Flora 717 is unique within the Sanitation unit and does not fit in with her sanitation sisters, but since variation is not the dreaded deformity, she is given jobs elsewhere within the hive. As Flora 717 proves herself and moves up within the hive, she finds trouble. Flora 717 defies the Accept, Obey, Serve mantra in order to save her hive.
An auspicious and of-the-moment novel for today's society where all bee populations face many of the same threats as Flora 717's hive. I love that this was written from the perspective of a bee, but with all the passion, danger and intrigue of a human society that is on the brink of a disaster. Also, while anthropomorphized Flora 717 and her hive followed much of the honeybee natural history and behavior while still turning out a riveting fictional story. The hive drama and classification of the bees gives a similar feel as a dystopian novel. Scenes of violence, sacrifice and revenge in The Bees, not only echoes hive life but gives the story an added edge. There are also mythical and fable elements that Flora 717 encounters. My one issue with the book, without giving spoilers, was how Flora came to be in the state she was in. It's possible that this was more of a mythical element to the story than a biological one, but most of the bee behavior presented was biological. Anyhow, it didn't ruin the story for me at all.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.