The History of Bees
by Maja Lunde
Discussion Questions:
Book Club Discussion Questions 1. The History Of Bees alternates between three perspectives: those of Tao, George, and William. With which of these three main characters did you most relate? To whom did you find it hardest to connect? With whom do you most identify?

2. On page 30, William’s mentor, Rahm, opines “One reproduces, has offspring, one instinctively puts their needs first, they are mouths to feed, one becomes a provider, the intellect steps aside to make way for nature.” Do you agree or disagree with Rahm’s statement? What do you think William felt when his mentor put it thusly?

3. On page 36, George thinks longingly of the bees’ buzzing as the “real reunion celebration.” How does George’s expectation of how his reunion with Thomas will go impact how the two men relate to each other?

4. Throughout the book, there’s great emphasis on experience vs. intellect. Think of George’s experience vs. Thomas’s books, Tao’s attempts to discover what happened to Wei-Wen, William’s relationship with Rahm. Which brand of “knowledge” do you think is more valuable?

5. George is preoccupied with leaving a “legacy” behind, resisting Emma’s attempts to move them to Florida. From where does his legacy ultimately come? Is it what you expected?

6. William, on page 116, says of his desired creation “Only humans could construct proper buildings, a building it was possible to monitor, which gave humans, not nature, control.” From where does the impulse to control nature come? Do you think that a desire to control the natural world is something humans can overcome without catastrophic reason?

7. How do the workings of the hive impart a lesson for humans? Is there any wisdom to be gleaned from the way their “society” works?

8. When George goes on the camping trip with young Tom, he tells him a tale about a snake (p. 186). What could the snake be symbolic of?

9. Colony Collapse is partially about abandonment of the queen. How does the theme of abandonment or fear of abandonment play out throughout the novel, specifically in Tao’s timeline?

10. Both William and Tao find refuge in going to bed, while George finds himself unable to rest. How do the characters hide from their loved ones? Where do they each find solace?

11. Which character do you think is most important in the book? Whose life story holds the three narrative threads together?

12. On page 316, Tao notices that Li Xiara and the teenage boy are using the same words to describe two very different feelings—“Each and every one of us is not important” could be about either community or loneliness. Do you find meaning in community? How? How could a sense of community be taken too far?

(Discussion Questions by Publisher)
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