A friend of mine who has lately begun to keep bees is finding them a great source of new interest. He steals down to his garden to have a look at them whenever he can snatch a moment from his work. It is like peeping into another world, he says, and it sends him back to his work feeling refreshed and stimulated. There are worlds within worlds in this complex universe of ours, and so much of the time we go on our way ignoring everything but our own particular little one. It seemed to me when I was first introduced to his hive on a lovely day in June that his garden must be a bees’ paradise. It stretches away down a hillside, a great part of it left as much as possible in its natural state. This part shimmered with the blossom of late flowering thorn trees, while underfoot were blossoming wild strawberries, trefoil and wild thyme, and through and over it all was the contented hum of bees, little master craftsmen with an amplitude of good material at hand.
It made me feel how much we all need other worlds in times like these, each man according to his own needs or tastes, whether we find it in study, or in some special activity, like woodwork, or like my friend who chanced upon a little world of Nature’s, to find that it lifted him right out of the worries and anxieties of the present. We let so much remain a closed book to us when we come to adult life, whereas as children we found the whole world fascinating. It would be good for us all if we could do so still.
— Charles Hayward, The Woodworker magazine, 1941, excerpted from “Honest Labour“
8 thoughts on “Looking Around”
I have my small bee yard right around the back of my woodworking shop, it’s a wonderful combination of building your own hives during the winter and the therapy of keeping honeybees in the summer.
This brings to mind a quote from a character in “That Hideous Strength,” by CS Lewis: “Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it as you grow up. Noticed it on a snowy day? The grown-ups are all going about with long faces, but look at the children – and the dogs? They know what snow’s made for.”
It seems we all need, from time to time, portals of reawakening to child-like wonder, whether it be a good book, hobbies, or a walk in the woods. The world has always been enchanted, despite our modern imaginations that manage to imagine the disenchantment most of us most of the time think of as “reality.”
Written in 1941. So timely today.
Do yourself a favour–buy the book. Its a complete gem. One of, if not, my favourite all time read.
I am a beekeeper because I am a woodworker. After 32 years keeping honey bees, I still enjoy the building part of hives, the box joints and assembling the frames.
As a former bee-tender I thoroughly love the continual community construction going on for the best of their social society. My skill as a woodworker, building top bar hives, pales in comparison to the skill of each one of those little creatures. Able to spend a few decades learning from them unquestionably changed my life for the better. The gifts they allowed me to harvest surpassed any skill I could offer them. We may not have much future withoout them. At least one not nearly as flavorful or healthy. It’s been an honor for me.
The date of the original writing is also interesting 1941. It was two years into the war and bee keeping was very popular and encouraged to provide a source of honey to support the war effort.
My grandfather kept hives. Bee keepers were given sugar to help support and feed the hives. The sugar was dyed in a shade of purple so that the sugar could not be used for anything other than its intended purpose in a time of conflict.
The plight of bees has also turned my attention to the paper wasp. A large hive emerged inside a birdhouse. My first reaction was to buy a can of wasp spray, but after doing some research about them, we decided to leave them alone. We need as many pollinators as we can get. They became a fascinating addition to our garden and our fear of them completely vanished. No allergies in our family, thank goodness. Fascinating insects. No one got stung all summer. That Hayward book is a salve for anxious minds in anxious times.
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