Booktalks

A Hive for the Honeybee Booktalk

  • Grades: 6–8

A HIVE FOR THE HONEYBEE
By Soinbhe Lally
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books

In honeybee society, each bee has a role and a job. But what might happen if some of the bees begin to ask "Why?"

It is the way of the hive. Each has their job to do. Workers work from the moment of their birth, keeping the hive clean, caring for the Queen, storing honey and pollen in the new cells they make. Field bees fly far from the hive, gathering honey and pollen and bringing it back to the hive. The Queen is at the center of the hive, and fills the cells of the broodcomb, increasing the size of the hive, and ensuring its survival.

Everyone has a job, everyone except the drones. Big, lazy, sloppy fellows, they get drunk on honey, break the combs, and dirty the hive. They are even too lazy to clean themselves, so the workers have to do it for them. Their major occupation is pretending to govern the hive and telling tall tales of the places they've been and the things they've done.

But in this hive, things are about to change. Alfred and Mo, two drones, one a poet, one a rebel, become friends with Thora, a young worker bee. As a result of their conversations, she has two dreams. In the first dream, she sees herself lying in a beautiful flower, drinking honey, and doing absolutely nothing, an impossibility for a worker. In the second dream, she sees a shaft of golden light falling on a mysterious amber figure, and hears a frighteningly loud noise and commotion, accompanied by screams of terror. She has no idea what this means, but she is frightened, and tells the dream to Alfred. He tells the Grand Drone, who declares it to be a vision from the Great Drone in the Sky.

The changes have begun. Other workers begin to have dreams to tell to the Grand Drone, and begin to think of things other than their work. But it is not until after the young Queen's first nuptial flights, that the drones begin to be concerned about the changes. The Queen lays only worker eggs, and very few drone eggs. "The hive doesn't need more drone eggs," she says. And Mo, ever the rebel, asks, "Why? If the drones are the rulers of the hive, why aren't we the ones to decide how many drone eggs are laid?"

Radical changes are coming to this hive, changes that will drastically alter the lives of its residents. And yet in the end, the hive as a whole cannot change. All beehives operate the same way, no matter what dreams the bees may have. Nature takes its inexorable course, and the drones must pay the price.

Cross the threshold, and enter the warm, honey-scented darkness of the hive, and let Alfred, Mo, and Thora tell you of its secrets.

 

Booktalk by Joni Richards Bodart

 

 

  • Subjects:
    Cooperation and Teamwork, Family Life, Equality, Fairness, Justice, Jobs, Careers, Work, Leadership and Responsibility, Understanding Self and Others
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