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A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings

UK Publisher: Scribner
US Publisher: Knopf

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 thirties, 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, 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.


Finely written and insightful‘ – Melissa Harrison

‘A moving, elegantly poised exercise in diffidence and under-statement..  a chronicle of humanization; of personalization; of becoming oneself….a book full of wonders and wondering.’ – Charles Foster for Caught by the River

‘A profound, funny and sometimes deeply moving book that describes a year of inner city beekeeping, while dancing between the history of bees and us and what it means to be human in our modern world.’ -Julia Blackburn

‘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



Helen Jukes is the author of the acclaimed memoir A Honeybee Heart has Five Openings, a Book of the Year...