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The Bees

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,513 Ratings  ·  2,794 Reviews
The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut.

Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Ecco
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Popular Answered Questions

Lesley The characters are bees! Its not marketed as YA but I think teenagers would enjoy it a lot.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Maria Padilla Hi Lola, also late, but just in case you have not seen come across the author's GR interview [Debut Author Snapshot: Laline Paull -May, 2014], she…moreHi Lola, also late, but just in case you have not seen come across the author's GR interview [Debut Author Snapshot: Laline Paull -May, 2014], she specifically addresses this strange "pregnancy". The whole interview is very interesting. I am copying here the relevant part.
Enjoy, Alejandra

-- GR: What are some of the weird and wonderful facts you've learned about bees during your research? Any favorite bits of trivia?

--LP: "..... but the spark that really set me off was learning about the one in 10,000 sterile female workers, who for no known reason will spontaneously form an egg in her body and begin to lay. And then finding out there are squads of sister bees who search the hive to destroy these eggs and kill her when they find her. Those two pieces of biological fact lit the blue touch paper for fiction. "

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk KiddAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinOne Plus One by Jojo MoyesThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Book Group Worthy Titles for 2014
13th out of 366 books — 1,484 voters
The Bees by Laline PaullAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrBittersweet by Miranda Beverly-WhittemoreWe Were Liars by E. LockhartDelicious! by Ruth Reichl
1st out of 11 books — 54 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
The Bees is a powerful tale of what life might look like to a hive member. This is not your kids’ Bug’s Life, but a very grown-up, compelling drama that includes both sweetness and considerable sting. There are several elements that might make one think of Game of Thrones Drones. Corruption on high, battles of succession, sinister enemies, both in the hive and outside. Not only must all men die but winter is coming, twice. There is also a lot of religious reference here. This sits atop a marvelo ...more

Anyone who knows me even just a little- knows how much I love Watership when I saw THE BEES on one of my friends GRs profile and read some reviews, one review in particular caught my attention- "Watership Down with Beeeeees" it said. I didn't have to read any further than that...

 photo 226316fe-d9b5-459c-8737-d342da203461_zps50167f1e.jpg

For Flora 717- it is almost over for her as soon as her little life begins. She is not like the others in her hive- she is bigger and darker than the other bees- and being different is never allowed- Deformity
To Bee or not to Bee...

Did your fate and role in life should be ruled by your birth heritage?

Is it advisable to question your religious beliefs?

Nowadays those are odd questions since we are living in an era where you are not longer "classified" due your ethnics and even you can choose not believing the religion of your own family.

However, this is not the case for the entire world.

Even in the 21st Century, it's clear that while there are many countries enjoying freedom to express your opinion, s

Bees are exceptional creatures. Their hive characterized by drama and high stakes, intelligence and a sophisticated organization that is a marvel to study and behold. For all its beauty and the tantalizing production of golden, luxurious honey, the bee life comes at a high price -- an existence propped up by slavery and the hive mind. There shall be only one Queen and no original thought. Accept. Obey. Serve. It's Orwell's 1984 in the flesh, Thought police and Big Brother included. Deformity mea
Emma Blackery
Feb 04, 2015 Emma Blackery rated it it was ok
Thoroughly disappointed with this book. I was recommended this by a Waterstone's employee - and the story looked to be unique and captivating. Sadly, within a few pages, I realised that Laline Paull's writing lacked clarity, and hardly anything about the hive in which the book was set was easy to envision.

I also agree with other critics of this book - this is not merely about bees, but seems to be a poor metaphor of humanity. The bees have many kins, clearly trying to represent the classes withi
Mar 26, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it
I really would have rather given this book three and a half stars. Four seems a tad too strong. It was very readable, interestingly novel, but thematically confusing. I felt like I was supposed to be drawing parallels deeper than "Hey, those bees fail to adjust their social structures in the face of adversity, just like us!"
Ultimately stupid complaint: I was continually confused by seemingly fluctuating level of anthropomorphism. Often it seemed that these were simply normal bees with their expe
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

The best thing to come out of reading this book is finding the following:

The Bees is really about a beehive – where the bees have been anthropomorphized and talk and shit. Amazing that that bit of info seems to be a spoiler for some. Heck, that was the whole reason I wanted to read it - an unusual premise is a quick sell for me. What wasn’t a quick sell? The story of Flora 717 (a/k/a the horniest bee in the hive) and her unyielding de
Jul 15, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I enjoyed The Bees.

Flora 717 is a bad girl. She's born different than the rest of the Floras. She's bigger, darker, smarter and more talented than the rest of her clan, and this is dangerous. She even breeds and everybody knows only the Queen may breed.

This is an odd little book that fascinated me with a bunch of bee facts, and it was very interesting...

Then I came across this video that I watched more than a few times and it brought this book to mind. It holds pretty much all you need to know
Oct 22, 2014 Zoeytron rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
A lowly sanitation worker bee flies to new heights as we follow a year in the life of a beehive. Everything for the hive, the bees are attuned to each other, chanting, humming and thrumming. Living by the rigid hive rules of Accept, Obey, Serve, even when it hurts. The Hive Mind. The Myriad, consisting of all those who would hurt bees - spiders, wasps, crows. The horror of too much rain, or smoke accompanied by thievery. Very different, I found it to be exceptional.
Jul 08, 2014 Abbie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF on page 121/304 39% (22/06/14 to 23/06/14)

There are no spoiler tags, so read at your own peril!
1.5 “Oh, spare me- he was just a great flying wad of sperm.” stars.
Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, born to clean, born to serve. But she was born hideous and large, nothing like the other Flora's. None of the other Flora's can speak, but she can, and she wants more.

Flora 717 is far different than the other Flora sanitation workers, she can speak, she's far too large and she's a rule-breaker. But S
It's a bit like The Handmaid's Tale, but in a beehive!

The Bees follows the existence of Flora 717, from the moment where she emerges as a conscious being - one of the Floras, sanitation worker bees, who are among the lowest classes of bees in the Hive. Most of her kin are mute and treated as inferior by other bees, but 717 is no ordinary Flora: it is soon discovered that she can not only speak, but also produce Flow - an important nourishing substance which is feed to the larvae. But there is mo
May 31, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi, read-2015
If you are a fan of Watership Down you will most likely enjoy this remarkable and highly imaginative story of the life of bees as they Accept, Obey, and Serve their Queen. With communication through dance in the hive and courage and strength, Flora 717 overcomes the challenging forces of rain, wasps, crows and the dreaded "visitation" that threaten her existence.....and forbidden secret.

While I did enjoy this interesting and informative story (with memorable prologue and epilogue) it didn't blow

Mar 26, 2016 Gergana rated it it was amazing
You might like this book if:
1. You enjoy Watership Down
2. You are curious about bees and their way of life
3. You want to read something bizarre and different
4. You are looking for a book with an original dystopian society (not another Hunger Games/Divergent copycat)

The Bees is a surprisingly 1. original, 2. action-packed and 3. emotional! For the first half of the book, I kept asking myself - why do I keep reading this? It's the weirdest, most bizarre thing I've ever had my hands on and it doe
Jo Ann
Jun 04, 2014 Jo Ann rated it it was amazing

Accept * Obey * Serve

Author Laline Paull has taken the world of the Honey Bee and turned it into a top notch scifi-fantasy novel. As a lover of dystopian stories this tale appealed quite strongly too me. Imagine a society run entirely by women. Paull brilliantly tells the story of Flora 717 a female worker bee born into the lowest caste of her society a sanitation cleaner, but something is different about Flora. She will prove to the rest of the hive her courage and resolve to save her people
May 12, 2014 Cherie rated it it was amazing
An amazing imagination and a wonderful, wonderful story!

If you ever wondered what life may be like inside of a hive of honey bees, this one is for you. Their life and death and cycle of wealth and loss are all here for everyone to discover.

Did you ever wonder what a bee sees or what she thinks as she goes about her daily life?

Flora has been blown off course on her way home from a foraging run. It is late and she has been chased by a crow. She has found a hole in a tree and is hiding. The crow
Apr 12, 2014 Robin rated it it was amazing

I wasn't sure I wanted to read this as I tend to shy away from anything written from the point-of-view of anything from the animal kingdom, but once I got into this I could not put it down. Flora is an amazingly well-created character and life in the hive is absolutely riveting, and I found myself caring about Flora and her kin more than I thought possible. I now want to watch the documentary "More Than Honey" to learn about these fascinating creatures. I will never look at honey in t
Dec 12, 2014 Julie rated it liked it
Lavish and unique, The Bees is a study in world-building. Laline Paull has taken a dissertation’s worth of dry facts about apian culture and transformed them into a dripping, droning, vibrating multi-caste tale of a beehive.

I nearly set aside this anthropomorphic dystopian thriller early on, because, well, it’s an anthropomorphic dystopian thriller. I did Animal Farm as a sophomore in high school; I wasn’t keen on revisiting those salad days. But Laline Paull’s gorgeous writing, and my immediat
Feb 15, 2015 Eilonwy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Eilonwy by: Gergana
Maybe 4-1/2 stars.

This was a really amazing, very different book. I know I keep promising reviews to come and then falling behind on actually posting them :-(, but I do need to organize my thoughts about this.

The short review is: This is a pretty unique story, super vivid and imaginative. If you want to read something highly unusual and original, give this a try. I think this is going to stick with me for a long time.
"Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive's survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are assets. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds ...more
NB: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program, but that has not affected the content of my review.

IIIIIIIIIIIII . . . have no idea how to rate this book*. I have no idea how to talk about this book. I have no idea how to think about this book. I mean, on the one hand, I’m so glad something like this — so weird and weird and just weird — can be published. But on the other hand, I have no frame of reference for really talking about it? Other than mayb
May 31, 2015 Dianne rated it really liked it
Very imaginative and interesting tale based on actual bee behavior. I learned a lot about these amazing creatures and had fun doing it. Well researched, with a lot of the current issues facing honeybees incorporated into the story.
Apr 11, 2014 Tortla rated it really liked it
Watership Down with bees. Proof that bees are infinitely more interesting than bunnies.
May 22, 2015 Laura rated it it was ok


It had been billed as a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games. From now on, I’m going to ignore any book whose marketing people explicitly compare it to The Hunger Games, because it’s not the first time - or even the first time this year - that I’ve been let down by what can only be described as this EVIL PLOY.

So what were the problems with this book?

For a kick off, it’s ACTUALLY ABOUT REAL BEES. Not metaphorical bees. Actual bees. My friend an
This book is stunning. It's magic! I can't remember the last time a story drew me in this tightly and refused to let me go. The writing is intoxicating and elegant. Regal and glowing, like the golden honey at it's center. The bees are mystifying, nearly erotic, but pure and bright. The hive is an intimate sanctuary of scent and holy devotion to the Queen. She is the Holy Mother and her blinding love incites bliss and rapture among her obedient disciples. Her children are strong, and tireless. Wh ...more
Bee prayer
Our Mother, who art in labour, hallowed by thy womb.
Thy marriage done, thy queendom come
from death comes life eternal...

I love stuff about bees. Dragonflies may be my favorite insect but bees are a source of endless fascination to me.

This particular story is part parable and part Dystopic fiction but accurate in its overall representation of hive culture. I was impressed with how seamless bee life transitioned into heroic quest while drawing on mythology and religion.
Speaking of hero
Claire McAlpine
Dec 05, 2014 Claire McAlpine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Utterly brilliant. Full review at Word by Word here.

Laline Paull has channeled an incredible life/universe within a beehive, seen from the perspective of Flora 717, a sanitation bee, born with more skills than her kin normally have and accumulates more knowledge that will lead her on a dangerous but necessary path.

The beehive is like a cult, its members knowing their place, their role, their boundaries, however everywhere there are risks and dangers both outside and more dangerously, that from w
Rashika (is tired)
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

The biggest downfall of this book for me was what made it unique: the bees(pun kind of intended.. but is it a pun or is it not, that is the question).This book has a lot of things going for it, but the characterization of the bees made it almost impossible for me to enjoy it. It really sucks because the plotis interesting, the world building is marvelous, but the characterization of the bees really grated on me.

My favorite bit in the whole
Jan 17, 2016 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
An extraordinary book, set in a hive and told in the words of flora 717 a sanitation bee, this book is fantastically original, thrilling and hugely enjoyable.
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first received a copy of The Bees. A story told from the point of view of a bee? It sounded like it could be really wonderful and unique, or really fall flat. Luckily, this was definitely the former. The Bees follows Flora, a sanitation worker bee from the lowest kin within the Hive. The Hive is separated into kins, each named after
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“You have wings and courage and a brain. Do not annoy me by asking permission." Lily 500 in The Bees” 11 likes
“Then kindly recall that variation is not the same as deformity.” 10 likes
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