What’s a beekeeper? Bee Wilson weighs in


What is a beekeeper?

The Hive by Bee Wilson
The Hive by Bee Wilson

Beatrice (Bee) Wilson, British food writer and historian and author of The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us, has this description:

Most beekeepers that one meets nowadays are benign amateurs — people who what they do, but don’t like to make a song and dance about it. You see them at country shows,wearing sandals and bearing home-grown potatoes. They are nature enthusiasts, hobbyists for whom a few hives are a way of staying in touch with the seasons, while producing some jars of something sweet to please their dear ones . . . . Amateur beekeepers are gentle, even depressed, people for the most part; if they have a social sting, then, like the queen, they hardly use it. They are used to keeping their cool in the midst of an angry multitude. Almost by definition, they are sensitive types — responsive to the delicate feelings of their little companions, always alert to the slightest changes in the weather and the mood of the colony. They often see their hobby as a sort of affliction, quote the beekeeper R.O. B. Manley — “Bee fever: a form of insanity from which you never really recover.” It sounds like an apology, but really it’s a modest kind of boast. (page 231)

Does any of that describe you?

Key words: Bee Wilson, The Hive, beekeepers, benign amateurs, nature enthusiasts, hobbyists, R.O.B. Manley, bee fever

Read a short review of The Hive by Charlie Parton on this site.

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