Lotte Möller – Bees and Their Keepers

First published in Great Britain by Maclehose Press, an imprint of Quercus Publishing Ltd
Published in 2020 in Australia by Hachette

This is a charming and informative book. I loved it.

Lotte Möller is a Swedish journalist, writer and bee-keeper. This work, while full of classical and literary allusions, is a readable little text about the complexities and social implication s of bee-keeping.

The book is arranged in two sections, the first of which is an account, given monthly titles, of historical events and information, practices in bee keeping, discussions of environmental issues, descriptions of a variety of bee-keepers and their hives, and observations of socio-human behaviour and relationships. It’s a very personal book with many references to the author’s own experiences with bees and with people.

The second part of the book is a selection of articles, some based on interviews. The chapter on the bee war on the island of LÆSØ is particularly fascinating.

My favourite chapter, though, must be October, which gives an account of Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey in Devon. As well as providing us with a fulsome account of his work, the chapter contains the advice: ‘As a journalist you cannot, however, allow yourself to be intimidated by a sense of your own limitations. That will get you nowhere.’ Clearly the author has been undaunted in her quest for a thorough telling of all things bee-keeping, and this has been to our advantage.

Lists of bee museums of the world, shops specializing in honey and honey products (including in Australia) and a respectable bibliography are also included.

Lotte Möller writes in a conversational style with a great deal of gentle humour. It is like listening to someone thinking aloud or having a visitor over for a cuppa. Her observations of people are usually sympathetic whilst forthright and her admiration for bees profound. The many illustrations, photographs and historical plates admirably support the text.

While the challenges for Australian bee-keepers are unique and not always similar, I suspect, to those of European apiarists, the book should still prove useful and worthwhile in our national context. And even for non bee-keepers it is such a pleasurable read that I thoroughly recommend it as general reading.

Thank you to Hachette for the review copy.