Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The History of Bees” as Want to Read:
The History of Bees
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The History of Bees

(Klimakvartetten #1)

by
3.80  ·  Rating details ·  15,873 ratings  ·  1,769 reviews
In the spirit of Station Eleven and Never Let Me Go, this dazzling and ambitious literary debut follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees and to their children and one another against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis.
England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed
...more
Audiobook
Published August 22nd 2017 by Simon Schuster Audio (first published August 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The History of Bees, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Orio I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who feels the same about this book. I too am “struggling” along and I’m of the way. I’m determined to finish…moreI'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who feels the same about this book. I too am “struggling” along and I’m ¾ of the way. I’m determined to finish it, but I fear the payoff is going to be a let-down. I totally agree about the Wei Wen story line. But equally of the other two storylines. They just go nowhere. The few connections to bees woven into their stories, are just not strong enough to warrant the title of this book.
I’ll add an update when I finish it.
...
Well, I finished the book. And, as expected, very anticlimactic. No real resolution with any of the characters. In addition, none of the character are likable or relatable. They all have anger issues and for no particular reason. Very confusing. Just when it got to the explanation of the bee colony collapse, it’s interrupted by the characters senseless behavior. Maybe there was something lost in translation from its original Norwegian publication.
It was a great subject to bring to light, but, unfortunately, this book was not one I would recommend.

.....(less)
Mylène I think that since pollinators are behind 1/3 of our alimentation, if they were to disappear, food would be much rarer and people would want to eat…moreI think that since pollinators are behind 1/3 of our alimentation, if they were to disappear, food would be much rarer and people would want to eat directly what we could grow instead of feeding it to an animal and then eating the animal. When you go directly to the source you get more than what you would get for one animal so you can feed more people.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,873 ratings  ·  1,769 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The History of Bees
Anne
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-german
Actual rating: 2.5 's

Unfortunately, this was a bit of a disappointment for me. I heard so many raving reviews about this book, so I totally expected this to really draw me in and leave a lasting impression, but that didn't really happen. Mostly this was down to the characters. I didn't get a good grip on them; they stayed very two-dimensional throughout the entire book. This is a shame, because I feel that a deeper connection to the characters would have changed my feelings drastically.

The story
...more
Diane S ☔
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Three stories that are connected, though how is not apparent until book's end. 1851, William, 2007, George and 2098, Tao, tied together by their dependency on bees. In 2098, the bees have all been wiped out, in China they pollinate by hand, a labor intensive endeavor. Each of these three have sons, so this is also very much about the bond and expectations between parent and child.

Very slow start to this book, was tempted to put it down, but I have a profound interest in our environment,
...more
Taryn
Without bees, the flowers were just flowers, not blueberries, not bread and butter.


3.5 Stars. The three protagonists are multiple generations apart, but their lives are all linked by the fate of bees:

• Sichuan, China in 2098:Pollinating insects completely disappeared from Earth over half a century before, so humans have assumed the bees' role. In order to survive, humans have refined the arduous process of hand-pollination. Children are trained for the job as soon as they enter school and
...more
Mallpunk
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I felt it was too simplistic. I never really connected with any of the three stories. I kept waiting for a plot twist or something that would really catch me, either emotionally or intellectually, but it continued straight all the way to the end. The characters lack depth and everything is over-explained. The ending attempts to bring together the threads, but it feels more like an afterthought to tidy up loose ends, and not something that touches upon the core of the story.
Manny
All over the world, the bees are dying. Despite considerable research, we don't really know why; it seems to be a combination of several different causes. Evidently, this is not good. But what does it mean in emotional terms? What would be an appropriate way to feel? Having read Maja Lunde's elegant and beautiful novel, I can suggest some possible answers:

- It might feel like being hungry and knowing you're never going to get enough to eat.

- It might feel like helplessly watching your partner
...more
Tanja Berg
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating 4* out of 5. Read in Norwegian. I feel a teeny weeny bit foolish reviewing this book in English, since it hasn't yet been released in any other country. It's been sold to several and it certainly has international appeal, and thus, I choose to review in English anyway.

This is probably the most un-Norwegian book by a Norwegian author I have ever read. It works though. The book is beautifully written and a joy to read for sheer composition. There are three different plots on different
...more
Mel (Epic Reading)
This is wonderful!
By a Norwegian novel debut author, Maja Lunde; translated from Norwegian The History of Bees is really well written. While I give 80% of that credit to Lunde, a bit of credit is due to the translator Diane Oatley.
Following three different timelines, all related to bees in some way, this is a literary masterpiece.

The three settings
We have 1898, 2007 and 2089 as our time periods. Set in completely different parts of the world as well; England, USA and China respectively.
Of
...more
Carlos
3.5 stars for this book. It is a nice book that attempts to connect three timelines, one in the late 1800’s , the other in the early 2000 and the last one in the late 2000’s . The only thing linking them is the bees and how beekeeping has destroyed , supported and changed their life forever. It was a very interesting thing to try and keep up with all these timelines, at first it takes you some time to connect with all the different characters, so I would say it had a slow start. The book picks ...more
Marialyce
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating wise this book is a tough one for me to call. There were parts of it that were excellent while also having parts that seemed to drag a bit. However, the author, Maja Lunde, was able to weave a tale of three generations of bee keepers. Each one covered a time span. The past, was represented by William, a seed keeper who wants to build a perfect bee hive thus securing his fame and his family's future in the world he inhabits. In the present time, we meet George who battles the modern age in ...more
Lucy Banks
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

A slow-burner, but loving the exploration into the vital importance of bees.

Bees are absolutely my favourite insect, so a book with bees in the title was never going to be overlooked by me. As ever, I wasn't sure what to expect - and was mostly engaged, with just a few occasions where I was left scratching my head.

The story follows three narratives - William, a bee-hive designer /obsessive from the Victorian era,
...more
Katie.dorny
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Definitely between a 3.5/4 star read for me.
Here we meet William, George and Tao. Our past, present and future in regards to our history with bees.
Each character embodies a different personal, historical or familial crisis. In this book change is painful. Humanity is destroying itself trying to tame bees globally; and this relationship is also imprinted on our intimate relationships.
All characters have varying relationships with their sons - it is rather symbolic to tie alongside earth’s
...more
Touchstone Books
For starters, our art team did an incredible job with the U.S. cover. Absolutely incredible. And when you see it in person, it's even more beautiful—tons of gold, special effects, I can't get over it. But that's what we had to do to live up to the gorgeous story inside. Would a world without bees be a world without us? You'll have to read it to find out.
Alice Lippart
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
A slow, but interesting and enjoyable read.
Alex
I am somewhere between 2 and 3 stars. At first I liked the three apparently different stories. But as I read, I got annoyed and bored. I think one of the main tasks of a writer is to keep the readers interested. This is the difficult job. Lundes message is good and the idea how to present it was also innovative. But i think the whole story would have made a more powerful impression, if the book had been smaller. I think sometimes, that the authors are trying to create atmosphere, and that is why ...more
Maryam
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book consists of three connected stories which their connection is not clear until almost the end of the book. When the connection is revealed the three stories become one and it’s actually story of us, humans.

1851/ England: William, an academic which tries to design a new bee hive in order to observe their lives. He’s obsessed with first his research then his son Edmund who seems ignores him all the time.

2007/USA. George. He’s from a generation of bee keepers/ Organic bee keeprs. He takes
...more
Karen Kay
I received this ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a review.

This story is told from three exceedingly different views. William lives in England 1852, George in the U.S. 2007 and Tao in China 2098. Each character shows us how important bees are to our society.

As with many translated books, I feel things are lost in the translation. Just like watching a bee buzzing around languidly from flower to flower, the story wandered from here to there to here to there to here ....

3.25
...more
Marjorie
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
There are three stories in this wonderful novel about the history and destiny of bees and their ties to humanity. The stories take place in 1851, 2007 and 2098. 1851 tells the story of British shopkeeper William Savage, whose dream is to build a better bee hive to ensure his children a better future. 2007 centers on George and his son, Tom. George is a beekeeper who longs to build up his business together with Tom, but Tom’s longings lie elsewhere. In 2098, Tao has the horrendous job of hand ...more
Rebecca
Blending historical, contemporary and future story lines, this inventive novel, originally published in Norway in 2015, is a hymn to the dying art of beekeeping and a wake-up call about the environmental disaster the disappearance of bees signals. The plot strands share the strong themes of troubled parenthood and the drive to fulfill one’s purpose. Like David Mitchell or Louisa Hall, Lunde juggles extremely different time periods and voices admirably. The only sections of the book that dragged ...more
☙ percy ❧
Aug 09, 2017 marked it as being-delivered  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tbr-standalone
this sounds kinda like cloud atlas except with extra bees, which essentially sounds like... MY PERFECT BOOK!!!!!!
Rachel
Oct 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1 1/2 stars.

Obviously, I wanted to like this book. I don't go out and buy new hardback books that cost me over $20 each to hate them. I loved the idea behind this book - three timelines that fleshed out a history of bees: one of which takes place in the past, one in the present, and one in the future. Unfortunately, the concept behind this book is its only redeeming quality.

This novel is told from 3 perspectives - William's timeline takes place in 1852, George's timeline takes place in 2007, and
...more
Susan
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a beautifully written story with an incredibly terrifying message. If the bees die, so do we. Simple as that. The three interconnected timelines focus on bees in the past, present and future. The past timeline deals with the invention of better beehives to aid in the study of bees. It doesn't sound super exciting but this family has a lot going on and they are quite interesting. I especially loved Charlotte, the budding feminist who doesn't let her gender hold her back from reading and, ...more
RoseMary Achey
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While there are many dual time novels The History of Bees uses three time periods; a historical, contemporary and futuristic to provide a brief history of bees. A historical fiction contemporary dystopian novel-is there such a category? Even if you are not the least interested in honey bees this is such an interesting novel and yes all three stories are related.
Anni
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I continued turning the pages until I came to the passages about knowledge, the same sentences I had read as a child, but now the words made an even greater impression: “In order to live in nature, with nature, we must detach ourselves from the nature in ourselves … Education means to defy ourselves, to deny nature, our instincts…”



Three timelines and three generations of beekeepers are linked in this nightmarish vision of a global disaster due to human interference in the natural life cycle
...more
LenaRibka
Let see it as a coincidence: a big egg insecticide scandal in Germany that has spread to food stores across Europe, "emissionsgate", Trump's energy policy and me, reading The History of Bees. Actually I can add many other scandals to this list, those that are happening because of our reckless behavior or indifferent attitude to flora and fauna, those that lead to damage which can never be made good.

The History of Bees is a book about bees. One could guess. It is Well not really. But it is so
...more
Dayle (the literary llama)
QUICK NOTES: Maja Lunde’s writing is exceptional and yet I didn't actually like the story. The words and the way Lunde uses them is incredibly effective but the layout and overall plotline just didn't work for me. It's such a bizarre juxtoposition to like the writing but not actually like the book, but there you have it.

I think my biggest problem was that the stories never felt connected. The ending gave a cursory connection but otherwise I felt like I was being jolted between three different
...more
Carolina
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel like this had so much potential, but I ended up feeling disappointed.

Most of the characters really started to annoy me (I found myself rolling my eyes quite a lot, which is rarely a good sign). I didn't enjoy the writing style either (The author. Writes in tiny sentences. Like this. All along. The novel.) I also didn't particularly love how the stories developed towards the ending.

I'd really love to rewrite this because there really is potential, and I enjoyed myself while reading most of
...more
Sara
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

'In order to live in nature, with nature, we must detach ourselves from the nature in ourselves...'

I really enjoyed this. Eventually. The History of Bees tells three separate stories, all intrinsically linked by bees, weaving through a combination of future dystopian, historical fiction and contemporary literature.

This was such an interesting and unique concept. I've read family sagas before, which manage to
...more
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
So hmmm, I do agree with the thoughts posted by @Jennifer about the sense of detachment and disconnect from this story: (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...). During many times when I was reading, I was bored actually. It's dry in many parts.

I also agree with the point that @Rebecca (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) made about Tao's narrative mostly dragging the story down. There were times where her narrative was like reading from a textbook - a lot of "tell" because it was not
...more
Joy D
What would happen if bees disappeared? This book combines three seemingly disparate stories: one set in the past, one in the present, and one in the future, to depict such a calamity. In the early 1850’s in England, William has fallen into depression, but is revived by the desire to impress his son through designing a better beehive. In 2007 in Ohio, George is a beekeeper dealing with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) (a genuine issue in today’s apiculture), while attempting to convince his son to ...more
Imi
I bumped this up my priority list after my brother (who apparently now reads nothing other than a lot of dystopian fiction...after never being interested in reading anything when we were kids!) recommended it to me. I loved the premise that is all too believable; bees have been all but wiped out by the end of the 21st century. Unfortunately, I think the novel as a whole wasn't as great as it could have been. The start is very slow, and the alternating chapters between 3 time periods means that ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Jag for ner till bror (Jana Kippo, #1)
  • Tante Ulrikkes vei
  • Mengele Zoo (Mino-series #1)
  • Arv og miljø
  • Vi for upp med mor (Jana Kippo, #2)
  • Nei og atter nei
  • Svøm med dem som drukner
  • Bränn alla mina brev
  • Was man von hier aus sehen kann
  • Søsterklokkene
  • The Why Cafe
  • Silvervägen
  • Tung tids tale
  • En moderne familie
  • Nora eller Brinn Oslo brinn
  • Kärlekens Antarktis
  • Leksikon om lys og mørke
  • To søstre
See similar books…
426 followers
Maja Lunde is a Norwegian author and screenwriter. Lunde has written ten books for children and young adults. She has also written scripts for Norwegian television, including for the children’s series Barnas supershow (“The Children’s Super Show”), the drama series Hjem (“Home”) and the comedy series Side om Side (“Side by Side”). The History of Bees is her first novel for adults. She lives with ...more

Other books in the series

Klimakvartetten (3 books)
  • The End of the Ocean (Klimakvartetten, #2)
  • Przewalskis hest (Klimakvartetten, #3)
“I needed seven hours of sleep. At least. I've always envied those who don't need much sleep. Those who wake up after five hours and are ready to preform at their best. They're the ones who really go far in life, I've heard.” 5 likes
“We are nothing without passion.” 4 likes
More quotes…