Book Review: The Song of Increase
It is rare to find an author as enamored with a subject as Jacqueline Freeman is with bees. “Swarm-swooned” is her apt description of the profound love and admiration she feels for these highly intelligent creatures, and in The Song of Increase, it’s clear that Freeman considers bees her greatest teachers—and perhaps ours.
Freeman, who became a beekeeper by chance, considers bees her friends. Yet the average bee-swatting civilian may do a double-take reading sentences like this: “Gathering a swarm and inviting them to live in one of my hives is one of the most sense-enhancing, gleeful tasks I know.”
But because Freeman is a highly sensitive writer, it is in these tender anecdotes about the daily wonders of beekeeping—observing drone bees on scouting missions for new hives, witnessing their total devotion to their queen and her precious larvae—that bees become altogether different, more complex creatures through her eyes. Bees unfailingly put the needs of the colony above their own; Freeman depicts their process as a master class in cooperation.
She also waxes poetic in sections written from the bee’s perspective, which are informed by the messages Freeman says she receives from her hives during her meditative practice.
The book is most compelling when Freeman gets specific about the hive’s collective relationship to light, seasons, and sound, but gets murky when she dips into their higher consciousness and spirituality. However, her larger point about the wisdom of bees—that humans need to carefully consider how we share our resources and planet—certainly resonates.