Robbing the Bees

I made a rare trip to Burger King for lunch this morning in search of the elusive Double Whopper with cheese. The Diane Rehm Show was on NPR and Diane’s guest was author and amateur beekeeper, Holley Bishop. Ms. Bishop wrote the book Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey–The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World (ISBN: 0743250214). She also sounds an awful lot like Gwyneth Paltrow (at least to my untrained ear).

My father tried his hand at beekeeping some years back, and I came across the remnants of the trade/hobby a few times during my childhood. In a second floor section of the barn not used to store hay bales one might have found a smoker (a smoke-belching, coffee pot–like contraption used to keep the bees docile), the wooden hive framework and various other accoutrements of the beekeeper. Apart from these things, however, I don’t know much about the process or about my father’s experience with it. I’m sure he’s made occasional mention of it in conversation over the years, but I have an extremely selective memory and the chances that I was paying any real attention are quite slim.

I think I’d like Holley Bishop’s book to be on The Bookshelf, for a couple of reasons. First, because the few minutes of conversation I heard between the author and the radio host were far more fascinating than I would have suspected such a topic could be. Second, because it’ll give me an excuse to talk to my father about something he was interested in as a younger man. An excuse I probably shouldn’t need, but which might be good to have in any case.

7 thoughts on “Robbing the Bees”

  1. My memory of Dad’s days as a beekeeper mostly involve Pops tromping thru the ‘bush’, following his swarming bees. I also remember picking the bees up at the post office, which had been shipped via good ol’ snail mail (hard to email a bee…).

  2. Mom laughs when she tells the story of Dad’s bees when they decided to swarm (leave). She says he ran after them into the woods calling for them to come back. Cute.

  3. If I ever heard the swarming story, I must have forgotten it. I can see why Mom would laugh. I did pick up the book today. Maybe I’ll send it to Dad when I finish it.

    Thanks for both your comments.

    I do have to wonder, though, what Dad called the bees as he ran after them through the woods. Probably something in Finn, eh?

  4. I always thought the bees came UPS. It has been a loong time. Italian honeybees as I recall.

    I also seem to recall them being a source of frustration year after year, with the swarms one time and the cows knocking the hive over another. Only remember getting honey once. We got to taste the honey with the honeycomb.

    They were interesting to observe. Dad said the scouts would dance for the rest to direct them to a fresh field. Used to watch them come back from the field so heavy laden with pollen they could barely fly.

    Yes, many stories would be available involving the honeybees, but as to Dad’s verbage as he chased them… although colorful (and bilingual) it would not be for the faint of heart.

  5. “…as to Dad’s verbage as he chased them… although colorful (and bilingual) it would not be for the faint of heart.”

    I’m sure you’re right. I’m surprised the bees didn’t simply drop dead from the sheer force of his invective.

  6. If that were the case, you probably wouldn’t have older brothers, as I’m sure we provided plenty of oportunities for him to practice his “craft”.

    Any animal (insect) hardy enough to be shipped via UPS, or even better the USPS should be able to withstand the fading yet colorful sounds of a hopping mad Finlander attempting to recover his investment.

  7. We younger siblings provided our share of opportunities, I’m sure. You elders, though, seem convinced that Dad had so mellowed by the time we youngers came along that we may as well have been sired by Tickle Me Elmo. 😉

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