Laline Paull's "The Bees" chronicles the life of a beehive in general - and one bee in particular. Flora 717 is a worker bee assigned to sanitation duties in her hive.
Dirt, dead bees, old wax, any other type of waste must be removed from the hive daily by Flora 717 and her sisters of the sanitation, or Flora kin.
The Flora kin is on the lowest rung of hive society. Above them are the Foragers, Nurses, Queen's Attendants, Drones and The Queen.
All except Flora 717 are content with their station in life.
While her devotion to the hive is absolute, as is her allegiance to the three commandments: accept, obey and serve; her driving sense of curiosity compels her to take advantage of unique opportunities to learn more about the hive. It also gives her a chance to serve the hive in ways that inspire admiration in some bees and jealousy in others.
Paull does a marvelous job of making it easy to relate to the bees without turning their hive into a thinly disguised allegory for human society.
The author also injects humor and social commentary without letting it interrupt the flow of the story.
Her description of the drones, addressed by the rest of the hive as, Your Maleness, is both funny and perceptive.
The impact on the hive of mowed lawns (green deserts) and pesticides (the gray film) also are smoothly woven into the story.