... a surprising book, even an astonishing one, overcoming all those initial concerns in its luminously honest and affecting first chapter. Jukes is a gloriously gifted writer and her book ought to become a key text of this bright moment in our history of nature writing. I was reminded of William Fiennes’s The Snow Geese and Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, but these resonances should not obscure the uniqueness of a book that quietly, beautifully, rewired my heart as I read it ... The brilliance of Jukes’s memoir is the way that it uses the image of the hive as a metaphor for so much else going on in the book. It’s rare to find an author who demonstrates such respect for her readers’ intelligence – the parallels and affinities are allowed to accrete gradually, subliminally, so that it’s only at the end that we recognise that a book that seemed to be about beekeeping is actually a meditation on solitude and friendship, on urban existence, on the condition of a generation ... It was Coleridge who said 'Everyone should have two or three hives of bees;' everyone should also own A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings, which moved and delighted me more than a book about insects had any right to.
... if you can’t literally sink into a honey-sweet bee colony, sinking into Helen Jukes’ A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings: A Year of Keeping Bees is surely the next best thing ... unfolds over a year into ease, sweetness, rhythm and flow ... Still a young voice in the world of nature writing, Jukes joins the ranks of pros like Robert Macfarlane and Helen Macdonald as she brings sharply into focus the details of the natural world that gleams and hums all around us.
Jukes’s account of her year of keeping bees meets all the demands of the new nature-writing genre ... This pressure to fulfil genre expectations diminishes Jukes as a writer. It is unfair to her talent – when she concentrates on bees rather than the bolted-on love affair, she is fascinating, informed and subtle ... Place in that sense is what all nature writing strives to reach. It would be wonderful if in her next book, Jukes were given freedom to roam there unrestricted.