A British naturalist offers crisp essays on her relationship with bees.
In her debut book, Howard, a devoted bee advocate, pens a lengthy, knowledgeable, and occasionally poetic tribute to honeybees, bumblebees, and other buzzy creatures. She pays attention to the much-publicized, recent dearth of bees but also focuses much of her attention on bees’ role in nature—to pollinate flowers, plants, and trees. As she notes, the author’s husband is a professional beekeeper, but this book is a personal journey about Howard falling in love with bees while in her 40s. The narrative is frequently eye-opening and profound, marked by the author’s dry wit and graceful writing. “As my interest in bees has grown,” she writes, “so has my awareness of everything that surrounds them or connects them to the web of life they exist within. I feel as though I have embarked on a never-ending journey, a journey that spirals continuously outwards, gathering momentum and taking on a life of its own as it sweeps up all the wondrous, wild things that fly, swim, walk, or crawl in its wake….If I could draw the route of my journey, I suspect it might look a little like a spider’s web, dotted here and there with treasures.” Howard also provides a nice balance between the very real science of studying bees and their function in nature and her cleareyed and eloquent observations about the natural world. Because of that balance, what might have sounded like a dry lecture turns into something far more interesting. Whether she’s explaining how different bee species are classified, describing her mother’s deteriorating health (and eventual death), or simply ruminating on the beauty around her, Howard creates a text that is compelling and worth your time even if you’re not a fellow bee advocate.
An eloquent love letter to bees.