One of the most curious of books that have appeared in many months is "The Life of the Bee," by Maurice Maeterlinck. From one point of view it is a nature book--a conscientious and intimate study of bee life, showing not only diligent reading, but dose personal observation. It is all this, but it is also a great deal more. Maeterlinck is one of those rarely gifted minds who cannot treat even of commonplace things without striking out some new flash of light from them; while with a subject like that of the bee, with all the interest of its complex social life, the unfathomed questions of what these little creatures know and think and feel, the delicate hair line of division between reason and instinct, Maeterlinck has a theme from which he has developed a sort of prose poem full of dreamy yet subtle philosophy of life and life's mysteries. Translated by Alfred Sutro, 1914.
ake towards the truth. I shall state nothing, therefore, that I have not verified myself, or that is not so fully accepted in the text-books as to render further verification superfluous. My facts shall be as accurate as though they appeared in a practical manual or scientific monograph, but I shall relate them in a somewhat livelier fashion than such works would allow, shall group them more harmoniously together, and blend them with freer and more mature reflections. The reader of this book will not learn therefrom how to manage a hive; but he will know more or less all that can with any certainty be known of the curious, profound, and intimate side of its inhabitants. Nor will this be at the cost of what still remains to be learned. I shall pass over in silence the hoary traditions that, in the country and many a book, still constitute the legend of the hive. Whenever there be doubt, disagreement, hypothesis, when I arrive at the unknown, I shall declare it loyally; you will find that we often shall halt be
In this book you can read a lot about the behaviour of bees (the author had an extensive knowledge of bees, not only from books he read but also from close observations of these little animals).
A list of the contents of this book:
I. ON THE THRESHOLD OF THE HIVE
II. THE SWARM
III. THE FOUNDATION OF THE CITY
IV. THE LIFE OF THE BEE
V. THE YOUNG QUEENS
VI. THE NUPTIAL FLIGHT
VII. THE MASSACRE OF THE MALES
VIII. THE PROGRESS OF THE RACE
Maurice Maeterlinck was a great writer who has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911. One of the main themes in his work is the meaning of life; and even in this book on bees you can find philosophical bits on this theme. Maeterlinck writes so beautifully that even if you're not interested in bees at all, I would recommend downloading this book and giving it a try.
I highly recommend this philosophical book about bees to anyone who loves to read beautifully written non-fiction. This book will not teach you how to keep bees though.