|Beekeeper Tracy Hunt and his productive pals|
One of my favorite passages in Vincent Starrett’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, is the paragraph that begins: “But there can be no grave for Sherlock Holmes or Doctor Watson . . . Shall they not always live in Baker Street? Are they not there at this moment, as one writes?”
That is beautiful prose poetry – beautiful and untrue.
For, as Rob Nunn points out here, Holmes has long since “definitely retired from London and betaken himself to study and bee-farming on the Sussex Downs.” So says Watson in “The Adventure of the Second Stain,” published in the December 1904 Strand.
Sudden death followed Holmes there in the July 1907 case that he himself recorded as “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane.” Mostly, though, he kept to his bees and “watched the little working gangs as once I watched the criminal world of London,” as he tells Watson in “His Last Bow.” And out of that came “the magnum opus of my latter years,” the Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with Some Observations Upon the Segregation of the Queen.
It is for good reason, then, that Sherlockians have taken an interest in bees, beekeeping, and honey. That led members of the Illustrious Clients, under the intrepid leadership of Steve Doyle, to visit Hunter’s Honey Farm in Martinsville, IN over the weekend.
It was a great day, in equal parts educational and fun. Tracy Hunter, a third-generation beekeeper, greeted us by recalling that Holmes and Watson lived at 221 Bee Baker Street.
|A beekeeper's suit|