The Beekeepers

Transferring skills to another is a special gift. It cannot be over-valued. I’ve done it myself – mentoring young poets, but also transferring skills such as using a chain saw, surviving in the wild, helping young entrepreneurs. We all have a lifetime of experiences to pass on.

Over the past year my friend, Geoff Hale, mentored me in becoming a beekeeper. I have a hive with brood boxes and supers and multiple accoutrements. I had the joy of my first batch of honey in May and another since. Geoff has been there throughout, explaining, correcting, and acknowledging progress.

Beekeeping is like going into the British Library and realising, when confronted by vastness, just how little you know. It felt the same on a four-day course to get my beekeeping certificate under the tutorship of Ron Hoskins. If you go for a walk in Stanton Fitzwarren, you’ll pass his collection of hives. Do say hello.

Ron is 91 and he’s been learning about bees since he was 12. For example, he’s renowned for breeding queens to kill varroa mites without chemicals. Ron is humble enough to say he’s still learning while I’m still at the “awe” stage.

Here’s a lovely poem “On Pleasure” to honour the bee and my mentors, Geoff and Ron, from the Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran.

Go to your fields and your gardens,

and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,

But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.

For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,

And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,

And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.

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