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Beekeeping - My Salvation

By Jeff Davies
September 2006,
A digital story from Coleg Sir Gâr

"I was brought up on a farm in Derwydd, Llandeilo near to Castell Carreg Cennen. The eldest of five, the youngest brother being Andrew, born in 1960.

I love nature and wildlife including my rescuing of a bumblebee trapped in the porch - capping it in my hand I found it literally had a sting in its tail. This didn't however put me off; my secret wish was to become a beekeeper.

However, a busy life stopped me realize my dream but little did I know what lay ahead. Years later I was to suffer experiences that would change my life forever.

In September 1987, I was in work when my wife phoned telling me that my brother Andrew had died in a tragic accident in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was newly married and about to embark on a new life in Australia when fate intervened. He was just 27.

My father never recovered from the loss of his youngest child and died of a broken heart just five years later at the age of 68. This was a turning point in my life and I felt even more strongly now that I had to make the most of things in life.

So, in April 1988 I bought my first beehive - full of bees. My wife was horrified because I placed the hive and bees in the boot of our car before bringing my new friends home. Strangely enough she didn't accompany me, but commented, "Why don't you just buy a jar of honey from Tesco's like other normal people?"

One hive became a dozen as I expanded, but I didn't care - I was still here and Andrew wasn't. It was hard, sometime painful but still rewarding work.

My life was getting better at last. Just six years later though, I went through yet another lifetime changing experience and challenge when in May 1994 I was run over by a stolen car in a revenge attack. I was left for dead but it was not my time to go. Absent from work through stress I became a recluse, refusing to even answer the telephone... spending most of my time in the security of my garden shed with my wood-burning stove and looking after my beloved bees. Suffering from severe depression and medically retired out of the police service, I slowly climbed back.

After much counselling, I enrolled at Coleg Sir Gar, Llanelli where I still attend. I've gained numerous I.T. qualifications and have made many new friends.

Although I have lost both my brother and my father, luckily I still have my family and life has to go on.

Every day is now even more precious to me and I live life to the full, studying and looking after my beloved bees - my salvation."

Jeff Davies

Dedicated to my youngest brother (Andrew 1960 - 1987) and to 'Dad'. Thanks for family and friends for their support.

Your comments

"It is so sad how things fall like dominos with little more than a touch, and I think it is brave to try and rebuild those dominos in anyway one can. I first read your story because I am interested in bees, and are reading as much as I can about them. It looks awfully complicated, but I'm sure I'll manage. Well done, and good luck to you and your bees!" Joe Bloggs from Kent.

"Jeff I'm proud that you're my cousin and friend. Life has thrown it's fair share your way but with your lovely family around you, you are a survivor.As for your bees, remember that balmy summer afternoon with the four of us on the patio,when the bees started to swarm. "Stay calm it'll bee ok " you said, and it was. What a sight. Best honey in town - Nature's healer." Anne Gunter from Pontypool.

"Well done, I lost my father some 5 years ago, took over his empty and vandalised hives and now produce honey for a small farm shop. If it wasn't for the bees I don't know where I would bee! I wish he could see me though." Colin, Kent.

"What a challenging life and how wonderful that you have been keeping bees as a therapeitic tool and a gift to the environment. They are amazing creatures and I would like to keep bees sometime... but not on a council housing estate where I am at the moment. It is my dream and in the meantime I support local beekeepers by buying their honey and reading all I can about them. Nature is such a healer and totally engaging. Well done you! " Stephanie, Sorrell.

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