Except for the Bible, I cannot think of a book more relevant to the present age than The Honey Bus. This memoir of a young girl emerging from the shards of a wrecked family offers a prescription not only for broken relationships, but for the broken culture of humanity.
Meredith May is five years old when her parents divorce and her mother goes into withdrawal, leaving Meredith and her brother in the care of their grandmother and step-grandfather. As she begins to learn about Grandpa’s beekeeping business, Meredith notes contrasts between the lives of bees and her own. “The hive was predictable, and that was reassuring. It was a family that never quit.”
As the years pass and her mother fails to recover, Grandpa draws Meredith into his own world, where she learns every aspect of bee society. Each member, whether queen, drone or scout, knows its place and puts the needs of the hive above everything else.
Meredith’s consoling relationship with her grandfather enables her to cope with loneliness, poverty and the baffling mystery of her mother’s deterioration. Each venture into the world of bees teaches her something significant about their society, and about life itself. I found the passage about bee dances particularly fascinating.
While human beings busily invent new ways to destroy themselves, bees protect the colony by sealing it with wax, keeping its temperature even, and protecting it from predators. In growing season, they produce honey and pollinate the plants humans depend on for food and survival. In this terrible era of infighting and selfishness, I have to conclude that these industrious insects are far wiser than humans.
Though The Honey Bus contains one instance of profanity and a few scatological words, I am happy to give it a five-star rating.