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Publication Date: May 05, 2020

A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings

A Year of Keeping Bees

By Helen Jukes

An inspiring, up-close portrait of beekeeping--a year of living dangerously--observing and capturing the wondrous, complex ecosystem of honeybees and their hive, and the emotional, spiritual transformation that changed the way the author sees, and is in, the world.

The critics embrace Helen Jukes's A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings:
    "As strange, beautiful and unexpected, as precise and exquisite in its movings, as bees in a hive. I loved it." --Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk
    "Beautifully written and timely." --Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

Helen Jukes is entering her thirties and feeling disconnected and trapped by her office job, when the book opens. She is struggling to settle into a new life in her recently purchased house in Oxford with its own small yard. As she ponders her new neighborhood and the many possibilities of a garden, she is brought back to a time in London when she accompanied a friend--a beekeeper--on his hive visits. And then, for good luck, she is given a colony of honeybees. According to folklore, a colony, freely given, brings good fortune, and the author embarks on an emotional, rewarding journey during the course of a year as she cares for these wondrous beings and learns the art of beekeeping.
     Jukes writes about what it means to "keep" wild creatures . . . on how to live alongside beings whose laws and logics are so different from our own . . . She delves into the history of beekeeping, and writes about discovering the ancient, complex, sometimes disturbing relationship between keeper and bee, human and wild thing.
     A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings is a story of observation, of the irrepressible wildness of these fascinating creatures so necessary to life on planet Earth, of the ways they seem to evade our categories, each time we attempt to define them. Are they wild, or domestic? Individual, or collective? Is honey an animal product, or plant-based? As the author's colony grows, and the questions that, at first, compel her interest begin to fade away, we see that the in-betweenness, the unsettledness, of honeybees calls out to a different kind of questioning; a different kind of consideration.

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