Keegan O’Connor reviews 'A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings: A year of keeping bees' by Helen Jukes

Keegan O’Connor reviews 'A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings: A year of keeping bees' by Helen Jukes

A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings: A year of keeping bees

by Helen Jukes

Scribner, $35 hb, 293 pp, 9781471167713

The eighteenth-century Swiss naturalist François Huber (1750–1831), who is still credited with much of what we know about bees, was almost completely blind when he made his acute ‘observations’ and significant discoveries. Huber studiously recorded the queen bee’s ‘nuptial flight’ and method of impregnation, her reproduction of very useful worker bees when inseminated and less useful drones by parthenogenesis (i.e. without insemination), and her violent, stinging duels with rival queens. Wrought from painstaking experiment, his findings inadvertently challenged common associations of the queen and her commonwealth with chastity, virgin conception, and peaceful government.

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Keegan O'Connor

Keegan O'Connor

Keegan O’Connor is a writer and teacher of English Literature and English as a Second Language living in Melbourne. His current research concerns the American afterlives of seventeenth-century British authors. In 2018, he co-curated the film seasons ‘Alice is Everywhere’ (ACMI) and ‘Gregory J. Markopoulos and the Cantrills: The Language of the Image’ (NGV).

Published in October 2018, no. 405

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