||July/August 2006 issue||
The living art of the beekeepers
Excerpt of story by J. Kevin Dunn
Bears and vandals won’t go into the old church
on Rock Mountain in Bridesville, B.C. Even the
antique dealer who tried to steal its bell was stopped
dead in his tracks. Bees just don’t welcome poorly
intentioned intruders. Ray Levesque, caretaker of these
"Catholic" bees and lover of historical landmarks, got
abandoned house of worship re-roofed on his own dime.
Moving the bees into the church 21 years ago gave him an
excuse to regularly visit the hills and meadows, unimpeded
by houses or major roads in all directions, just this side of
the Washington border.
The church meadow bursts with clovers — red, sweet,
white, Dutch — along with wild rose, buckbrush, snowberry,
wild chokecherry and alfalfa. This is Levesque’s honey crop.
He is one of the southern B.C. interior’s most ingenious and
essential characters — an apiarist — and has been this
area’s government-appointed apiculture inspector for 28
years. Beekeepers are folk artists who bridge the gap
between agriculture, art and industry, individuals who,
through their own quirky means, propagate a key link in
the food chain. Some keepers are of the competitive, territorial,
commercial variety, while others are of the "if it
smells good, I’ll smoke it" school of thought. All have
bizarre tales of the land, of one another and of having
been stung in unconventional places.
For the rest of this story, visit your local newsstand or go to our store to buy this issue.