I haven’t written for a while because it’s been a difficult few weeks. My little boy, Tommy, was very ill, first diagnosed with pneumonia and then with pericardial effusion – excess fluid around the heart. He needed an emergency operation in Bristol, a few hours away from where we live. He was in hospital nine days in the end, and is still on antibiotics, but the very kind and efficient healthcare pros in our fantastic NHS fixed him and made him into a happy, healthy toddler again.
I’ve managed to do some reading since we got back from Bristol. This book is one I found in our local library. It features three intertwined stories, from the past, present and future – a future without bees.
In Sichuan, China, 2098, Tao labours all day to hand pollinate fruit trees: a job once done by bees. Her main joy in life comes from the one precious hour she gets each day with her three year old son, Wei-Wen. But their lives are about to be hit by tragedy.
In Hertfordshire, England, 1851, William is a failed scientist turned seed-shop owner who has taken permanently to his bed. However, unexpected inspiration and hope is to come.
In Ohio, USA, 2007, ageing pro-beekeeper George struggles to accept that his son is uninterested in carrying on with the family business. Where does the future of the business lie?
All the main characters suffer difficult, devastating events, which are slowly revealed to have a common theme. At times I found the book emotionally gruelling to read, particularly the parts featuring Tao and her toddler son Wei-Wen. Luckily Lunde gives the reader some relief by ending the tale positively, with hope for the human race – if we can only learn from past history. We have already been given a warning. The book is fictional, but inspired by real events – the fruit farmers in the orchards of Sichuan do indeed painstakingly pollinate their crop by hand.
Interviews with Beekeepers
Next year I’m looking forward to the publication of Steve Donohoe’s Interviews with Beekeepers, which will feature “interviews with legendary beekeepers from around the world”. I recommend following Steve’s blog, The Walrus and the Honeybee – his most recent post, Bee Farmers: What do you fear? is particularly fascinating. I certainly fear Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus even more than before now!