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The Bees

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  3,671 ratings  ·  979 reviews
The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death.

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 be
Hardcover, 338 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Ecco
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The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk KiddThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrOne Plus One by Jojo MoyesUnder the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
Book Group Worthy Titles for 2014
10th out of 290 books — 1,052 voters
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1st out of 11 books — 49 voters

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Community Reviews

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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...

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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
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
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
Apr 03, 2014 Leah marked it as to-read


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
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
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
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 Si
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.
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

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
 Jo Ann

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.
"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
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
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
Watership Down with bees. Proof that bees are infinitely more interesting than bunnies.
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
Jennifer (aka EM)
Ok, it's not high art but it's good story-tellin'. A unique premise, with moments of great drama and a convincingly-built alternate universe. The penultimate scene is worth the whole read, if you ask me; although the final chapter is irrelevant and drags it back down into, until then carefully and successfully avoided, sloppy sentimentality.

I spent a long time trying to parse the weird jacket blurb "via @MargaretAtwood" and the seemingly damning-with-faint-praise accolade she bestows on Paull's
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
I got halfway through and gave up. The story may be intriguing to some but it didn't grab me because... it is about bees. And I just couldn't really make myself care about bugs. Even bugs with status anxiety and longings for motherhood and brave hearts.

Possibly the writing wasn't very good - it certainly didn't seem very good to this reader. But all the advanced praise this book has been receiving along with the good reviews here on goodreads make me wonder if I'm not just a closed minded anthr
What an undertaking this author took on when writing this book. Overall, I loved this book and I loved the protagonist! But there is also a learning's actually the voice and actions of bees! So at first it took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that everything is from the view point of a bee or bees Very unique and I couldn't help but be interested in these little creatures. I love reading something unique and this surely was unique in nature.
Authors writing about animals should look to Animal Farm for guidance on how long such a book should be (352 pages good, 119 pages better!). But the draggy length of this book was the only thing I found unappealing about it. What makes it fun is the sheer originality and unexpectedness of reading a novel about bees, combined with a heightened writing style that I found to be a good fit for the story. The author's mixture of anthropomorphic elements like dialogue and etiquette with the bodies and ...more
Claire McAlpine
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
Aug 06, 2014 Kandice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kandice by: Delee
4.5 stars... Absolutely beautiful!

Welcome to The Hive! Every bee is born with a specific duty; from sanitation workers, fertility police, priestesses, and drones to name a few. Flora-717 is unlike her fellow sanitation peers and we follow her as her responsibilities in The Hive change. We come to understand the functions of The Hive that are rooted in respect and devotion. But above all, we learn to ACCEPT, OBEY, SERVE! Oh but not every bee is compliant and there are dire consequences...

Laline P
Jun 24, 2014 Tatiana rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tatiana by: Margaret Atwood
3.5 stars

Evidently, bees are fascinating creatures, they really are! Who knew? And as far as their representation in this "dystopia," it is mostly factual. But although I enjoyed learning about bees, I am not sure I actually cared to read a fictional novel about them (too often my mind wondered during all the nectar gathering scenes). Maybe I needed the same story told, with the same dystopian setting, only with human characters and slightly adjusted?

Anyway, it's definitely worth checking out.
Harpercollins Canada
You have never read a book like this before.

There. I said it.

I have a slight fear of bees and wasps, if by slight I meant crippling and devastating. I’m the guy you see running, ducking and screaming away from the picnic table or paralyzed with fear beside a well trafficked flower. Nevertheless, I picked up The Bees by Laline Paull in hopes of conquering my fear in the name of great fiction (how great is that cover!). I was not disappointed.

The novel follows Flora 717, born a sanitation worker
What a great read.

I loved the way she melded bee behavior into the plot and brought distinct personality not only to Flora 717, but the many bee sisters and other creatures that Flora encounters.

The way the hive operates and is controlled is a brilliantly drawn dystopia, too. It's INTENSE, even savage in some scenes. The sensory details about life in the hive, too, are incredibly well done. I found the writing to be magnetic.

(view spoiler)
“This book is set entirely in a beehive, but the novel and its characters are so beautifully rendered that it could have been set anywhere. Societal codes and social mores combine with the ancient behavior rituals of bees, bringing forth a remarkable story that is sure to be a book club favorite.”

Ilene Lefkowitz, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ
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Help ! I cant find the summer reading list I joined 2 24 Nov 16, 2014 06:54PM  
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Die Bienen: Roman

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“You have wings and courage and a brain. Do not annoy me by asking permission." Lily 500 in The Bees” 4 likes
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