bookcrow asked: Hi Neil, My 7 year old son is doing his big 1st grade project on How Bees Make Honey. He was fascinated with the video of you pouring the bees into the hive and the pictures of you and the swarm. You wrote that you poured some of the new bees in bare-handed, and he is wondering how often you go ungloved and un(beekeeping)clothed and how often you get stung. And why Famous Writers do things like take care of bees and make honey.

I tend to put on the bee gear and gloves because it makes me feel safer, but if you are moving gently and easily, and not being stupid, and paying attention to what the bees are doing, what time of day it is and suchlike, you can keep bees without those things. Lots of videos on youtube of barefoot beekeepers.

I get stung, on average, once or twice a year. Usually it’s my own fault.

Famous Writers take care of bees and make honey (well, the bees make the honey, but the famous writer puts it into jars, and spends much too much time melting beeswax into usable lumps) for the same reason anyone else does: it’s fun. It’s satisfying. I like looking after the beehives, and I like feeling that there are seven hives of bees in my part of the world that wouldn’t be there if I didn’t have them, and I learn a lot from the bees.

There’s a WONDERFUL graphic novel called Clan Apis, written and drawn by a biologist named Jay Hosler, about a beehive and a bee’s life-cycle, that a smart 7 year old would enjoy as much as an adult would (and I did).

  1. atcdblu said: (whenever I read about your beekeeping, I imagine you somewhat like retired Sherlock Holmes… except that you are married to Amanda Palmer, which I suppose gives you one advantage over the Great Detective)
  2. carolchiovatto said: Cute answer.
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