Locals + Culture

"For so work the honey bees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom." -Shakespeare  

And so, we gather.

My nonno used to say, “every saint has a bee in his halo.” It would take years before I realized why an arrant atheist, whose sole religion was the profound love of nature, would make impromptu mentions of saints - unless murmured through cigarette clinging teeth on a string of poetic cuss words. Then again, Mediterranean is the place of converging ideas where saints, pigs, and whores often get placed in the same sentence. And the phrase was not really his, but E.V. Lucas's.

It would be simplistic to say that bees have managed to buzz into the intricate saga known as my life, at an early age. I’ve been enamored with these incomprehensibly brilliant, hairy-eyed creatures for as long as I can remember. Quite literally, I learned to stand upright and took my first steps while inside the wooden frame of a bee house. No, this was not one of those lesser-known, and slightly questionable euro methods of parenting, similar to keeping your newborn in a cardboard box for the first few months of their infancy. This invention was solely the product of my grandfather's incredibly practical, think-out-of-the-box approach to life. By sticking me in a box he was able to simultaneously teach me how to stand on my own two feet, keep me under much-needed supervision, and uninterruptedly tend to his craft. Sheer bee quality brilliance in action. 

I am a granddaughter of a beekeeper, and the fondest memories of my childhood evoke visions of elysian, like meadows unfolding limitlessly into the horizon, pulsing with vibrant energy and the scent of meadowlands at their dewy prime. Landscapes amalgamated depending on the seasons - midsummer flowering fields, quaintly cradled between snow-dusted alpine peaks, were replaced by well-protected island coves where gentle sea winds and brilliantly warm sunshine would caress rows of weathered wooden boxes during harsh winters.   

With the proficiency of an expert perfumer, my nonno masterfully chose pastures that would give him just the right blends of flowers resulting in the most divine flavors of this heavenly nectar. I fondly recall bone-chilling windy winter nights gathered by the soul-feeding flames of his old stone fireplace, surrounded by piles of leather-bound books, stacks of outdated newspaper volumes and us studying and planning the next season's routes. There’s that thrill of starting an adventure each season, that first ray of sunshine on your face and wind tangling trusses of your hair, that smell of scorched earth, cedar wood frames drenched in honied sweetness and the whiff of wax. That intoxicating mixture always reminded me of the harvest - a beautifully orchestrated choreography of wide-brim netted hats and light-colored suits, enveloped in the cloud of smoke and laboring intensely and tirelessly on the large silver honey exacting contraption. That unforgettable sound of when the uncapping fork first pierces the honeycomb and the sticky gooeyness lands on your hands and inevitably, eventually in your mouth.

The smell of burned flowers and freedom - the stuff dreams are made of.

If attuned to the promptings of life, we come to recognize signs and symbols that guide and ultimately mark our lives. Case in point, this ex-bee house inhabiting soul now lives in a state whose very symbol is the beehive, happens to work in a studio located under a bee house, and will most likely seek descendants of her nonno's bees to freely roam behind her home in the olive grove, nestled among the bushes of lavender, shrubs and corn blue blooms sprinkled by the brilliantly blue sea. 

Fortunately, being a part of a collective of similarly-minded individuals who share the same values and who have similar passions and interests, has proven to be one of the most rewarding aspects of living in this city. Not only do they recognize the amazing nature of these fascinating creatures, that not only self-regulate, but have the capability to metamorphose themselves into whatever form their respective collective hive requires, they have put their money where their mouths are. In this case, on the roof of our cityhomeCOLLECTIVE office building. AND have you known, it takes 12 bees their entire lifetime to make just one teaspoon of honey. I cannot say with certainty if the fruits of their harvest will become available for sampling, but I am enamored with the idea that our office and Opéra Garnier have something shared.

As we are a collective of doers and epicureans who love to socialize, when our cityhome beekeeper McKay invited us to collaborate and participate in a honey-tasting event in our UNDERGROUND space, we were mouths ready. Under the glistening constellation of antique lanterns and flowers gently draping from the ceiling unto what seemed like an endless bacchanalian spread, we partook of honey of the most varied tastes and from furthest corners of distant lands. In the warm glow of candlelight, filled with sounds of genuine wholehearted laughter, we communed and relished the ultimate gift of togetherness…AND, the life's work of the most treasured insect ever gifted to mortals. We are grateful for such sweet gifts and invitations to gather. The doors of our beloved building are open for collaborations of many varieties. We welcome your enquiries, and you.

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