The History of Bees (Norway)

Book #17

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde, translated by Diane Oatley

The day after I finished The History of Bees, the New York Times published a story on the “insect apocalypse” that brought all the themes of this fictional book to reality. From the bee colony collapse disorder to people hand-pollinating trees in China, the environmental impacts Lunde writes of are definitely not fiction. I had no idea.


This book shares the story of William in the U.K. in the 1800s, George in the U.S. in the early 2000s and Tao in China in the late 2000s. While the issues in their lives are vastly different, they relate to each other and to the bees. Lunde writes of the environmental and societal impacts from the loss of bees and the prospect of a world without them is scary. Made all the more frightening by the studies reported on in the NYTimes article…

The twists and turns in the novel eventually uncover the connections between the three characters. I was really interested in the idea behind this book and it has me curious to the actual state of bees and pollination in our world. The stories stall a bit in the middle as each character wrestles with their families, their own motivations, and their next steps. All in all, I enjoyed the book - it was a bit of sci-fi combined with the exploration of how each of us impacts our environment in one way or another.

I’ll also never kill another bee again.