Book: The History of Bees  

Author: Maja Lunde 

Review by: Martin Richenhagen, chairman, president and CEO of AGCO Corporation 

Martin Richenhagen

As someone who has spent the better part of his professional career in the agricultural industry, I have long understood the vital connection between honey bees and crop production. Honey bees pollinate much of the food we eat and, without them, the world could come close to the brink of starvation.  

The History of Bees by Norwegian author Maja Lunde is part of a newer category of literature called climate fiction. The novel, which focuses on what happens when all the bees disappear, takes a unique approach to this potential ecological disaster. It depicts the “history of bees” by chronicling the lives of a mid-1800s European biologist who creates a more efficient beehive, a farmer in the midwestern United States who is facing the challenge of colony collapse disorder and a Chinese woman in 2098 who hand pollinates crops after honey bees are extinct.   

More importantly, the book looks at the complexity of the relationships between the main characters and their children, delving into the desire of parents to protect their offspring, control their destiny and provide them with a better life.  

The global framework of the novel looking at life in the past in Europe, modern-day America and future China all interconnected with an insect that has existed for millions of years underscores both the fragility of humankind and our environment.  

In this time of climate denial and calls for isolationism, this book reminds us that continuing down that path may not get us to the future we dream of. 

Editor’s notes: Global Atlanta will receive a 10 percent commission on any purchase of this book through the links on this page. also contributes 10 percent of the purchase price of each book to independent booksellers around the United States.

Each year, Global Atlanta asks influential readers and community leaders to review the most impactful book they read during the course of the year. This endeavor has continued annually since 2010. 

See last year’s full list of books on BookShop here, and all 2020 reader picks here. 

All books were chosen and reviews written independently, with only mild editing from our staff.