The Heart of a Honeybee

I have just finished reading this wonderful book with the glorious title of ‘ A honeybee heart has five openings‘ by Helen Jukes. It also has a glorious cover intricately patterned in blue and gold . It is categorised by Scribner UK as memoir/natural history and as such it is a clever juxtaposition of those two genres.

The book covers just one year of keeping bees as the author moves to Oxford and a new job. She is encouraged by her friends to keep bees and finally she obtains a hive and the bees which she hesitatingly looks after. Jukes is a great researcher and she adds so much information about the anatomy of the bee and the history of beekeeping.

She also blends ancient fables and rituals that involve bees. In ancient Greece, if bees hovered over the lips of a newborn (just imagine mum!!)it was seen as a omen that the child would grow up with a mellifluous tongue. Jukes becomes so obsessed with her bees that she says,  ‘maybe one day I will open my mouth and bees will come out, wild and humming, instead of words.’

The book is also’ a subtle meditation on humanity’s relationship with nature’ and as such it offers writers an insight into how seemingly everyday topics and a litany of daily life can assume a greater significance.