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Publisher's Summary

A fascinating, insightful and inspiring account of a novice beekeeper's year of keeping honeybees, which will appeal to readers of H Is For Hawk and The Outrun.

Entering her 30s, Helen Jukes feels trapped in an urban grind of office politics and temporary addresses - disconnected, stressed. Struggling to settle into her latest job and home in Oxford, she realises she needs to effect a change if she’s to create a meaningful life for herself, one that can accommodate comfort and labour and love. Then friends give her the gift of a colony of honeybees - according to folklore, bees freely given bring luck - and Helen embarks on her first full year of beekeeping. But what does it mean to ‘keep’ wild creatures? In learning about the bees, what can she learn of herself? And can travelling inside the hive free her outside it?

As Helen grapples with her role in the delicate, awe-inspiring ecosystem of the hive, the very act of keeping seems to open up new perspectives, deepen friendships old and new and make her world come alive. 

A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings is at once a fascinating exploration of the honeybee and the hive and the practices of honey gathering and the history of our observation of bees and a beautifully wrought meditation on responsibility and care, on vulnerability and trust, on forging bonds and breaking new ground.

©2018 Helen Jukes (P)2018 Simon & Schuster UK

Critic Reviews

"This book has found a special place in my heart. It’s 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)

What listeners say about A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

I quivered with each new chapter.

The bee stung lip, oozing honey coupled with a Russian accent was most memorable, te he!

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  • R W
  • 10-09-2018

Didn’t want it to end

This isn’t a book I couldn’t put down, because it is dense so I enjoyed chewing on it one bite at a time. But I was really sad when it came to an end. A really beautifully told tale of a millennial and her bees. Well narrated. Definitely one I will enjoy over again.

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  • Erica C.
  • 29-04-2019

Entertaining and informative

I appreciated that the information about bees and beekeeping we’re intertwined within a story. Also, that beekeeping was not romanticised.

1 person found this helpful

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  • r1
  • 01-10-2020

informative but couldn't relate to the narrator

as a beekeeper I found the information about beekeeping correct and learnt quite a few new facts.Though I do like the idea of the premise I struggled to relate to the main protagonist.

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  • J. LoVecchio
  • 20-09-2020

good

I read a lot of bee books, and in parts I really really enjoyed the tone of this one, partly because she has chosen the sort of approach and hive I want. But there a couple of things that rubbed me up the wrong way. One is how in a fairly involved exploration of the life of Francois Huber, a blind beekeeper she is quite insulting unnecessarily? (Describing one of the portraits of him as his blindness making him look deranged. And picking apart his use of language revolving around sight) she is fascinated with him and his disability in a way I dislike. The other is much more minor, I get bad vibes off the man she starts a relationship with during the book. Not a thing I can really explain. But aside from that I got a lot of good from this book, musings on home and self growth.

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  • arlene f.
  • 10-04-2020

BEE-utiful book

Hooked from the start. loved the way the writer interlinked the bees and her relationship to them to her own life. Also loved the input from the OED.

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  • B. Smith
  • 02-03-2020

beeutiful story

as a new beekeeper thought this was informative and entertaining. I would highly recommend it.

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  • Maxipoppins
  • 30-01-2020

Hmmm...

Whilst I love the concept of writing a book on bee keeping in a fictional manner, rather than a reference guide, I don’t feel the balance is right here. There is a distinct lack of story and far too much fact. The facts are great, but the story is very much lacking and the characters undeveloped. Shame, because it could have been great.

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  • Rhiannon
  • 22-01-2020

bit ott but good information

she's a little too emotional about the bees. I'm a beekeeper, and I love my bees, but it's not such a complex spiritual awakening that she seems to be creating through overthinking. I like this book because it gives a lot of good information about bees, the history of keeping them and biology of the bee itself.

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  • Aljotock
  • 06-09-2019

Love it!

A wonderful, romantic story well read and interesting. Captures the essence behind wanting to own a Hive of bees for yourself and by coincidence I came across this just as my wife started her 2 Hives. Highly recommended for anyone with a soul and wanting a little escapism

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  • Ibbie Anderson
  • 04-11-2018

Beautiful

A wonderful and languorous tale of how bees can change your view of the world.

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  • Vermilion
  • 15-08-2018

... and the book five stars.

I really enjoyed this audiobook, it was perfect company. Wonderfully read and very well written. I would have been content to learn about bees, but this book offers so much more than that.

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