Soinbhe Lally’s allegorical novel, A Hive for the Honeybee, is a beautiful tale about one little worker bee who learns idleness and thankfulness through her friends, Alfred, Mo, and Belle, in a working-centered society.
The story begins when we meet Thora, a small house bee, whose entire life is centered-on the colony. Her friend, Belle, is a hive cleaner, and she spends most of her days sweeping “up the dust made by a hundred thousand busy feet coming and going on the hive floor all day.” The hive is their world, and their world is the hive.
On the other hand, the hive contains the drones, who only think about themselves. Drones focus solely on drinking honey, going Queen-questing, making ridiculous rules, and being extremely messy and lazy. Yet Alfred, a poet, and Mo, a philosopher, are the exceptions.
Philosopher Mo is beginning to question the way the colony functions when he bumps into Thora and Belle, who are, of course, working. Mo tries to teach these small workers how to dream. Belle immediately stops the conversation, stating that “the hive is our whole existence. We’re born to work.” However, Thora begins to open her mind, and unlike any other worker bee, she begins to dream.
Thora dreams she “flew outside into the sunlight, gorged herself on nectar, and lay in the heart of a wild white rose under the noonday sun.” Her dream is quite elaborate, seeing as she, because she is constantly working, never has time to savor such exotic circumstances.
But even after such an enlightening experience, the hive begins to spiral out of control.
And it all starts when a new Queen begins to sing; once her song has been sung, many bees and drones begin to die after various mating sessions, brutal wasp attacks, and an intruding mouse.
Through all these horrible happenings, though, Thora, Belle, Alfred, and Mo still remain close friends, and with Alfred and Mo’s guidance, Thora continues to dream.
That is until the drones are forced out of the colony into the bitter cold by the Queen’s command; after this hideous slaughter, Thora realizes just how important her friendships were. Without them, she is all alone, and she realizes that “there was nobody waiting for her…not anymore.”
In the end, Thora realizes that life is more than just working; it is a celebration, as well as a hardship. At times, we do need to be busy, but at other times, we need to revel, cherish, and appreciate the small things in life, like a simple white rose.
A Hive for the Honeybee is an incredibly complex novel, which does not solely revolve around bees. Instead, it is a stand on government, art, poetry, and society rolled into 226 pages of sheer emotion and beauty. Like Thora and Belle, we need to remain hard-working; however, we must also be like Alfred and Mo, where we savor beauty outside the hive. It is okay to be idle, appreciative, and thankful.