Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Power of the Buckfast Bees : creators of an elixir popular in the discerning parts of Caledonia.




Brother Adam could harness the power of bees. He knew a lot about them.  This Benedictine monk was known as the "Einstein of bees" but I think that's too academic a description of him. My feeling is he just knew and felt a great deal about them. In 1919 he was put in charge of beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey in Devon and remained in this role until his death in 1996 at the age of 97 when he was still the world's most celebrated apiarist.


Brother Adam prepares to sample the fruits of his bees' labour.


Buckfast Abbey is a singular place. The first abbey here was founded in 1018 but it fell into ruin over a number of centuries. In 1907 monks of the Benedictine Order began to build it again. There were never more than six monks involved in the building of it over the time of its construction. The new abbey, was completed and consecrated in 1938.


It only took 6 "Buckfast " refreshed monks 31 years to build it.


The abbey, situated among the hills of south Dartmoor, is where Buckfast Tonic Wine is made. It is a popular liquid refreshment in certain parts of my native land, Scotland. Apparently it gets to the parts other tonic wines can't reach and does so speedily.  I think the honey manufactured by the bees Brother Adam nurtured over generations is an important ingredient of the wine. 

The monks at Buckfast Abbey have always had a reputation as entrepreneurs and in the last decades of the 20th century they sold off,  at a profit, a good deal of their land to commercial and industrial companies. The word whispered around the lanes deep among Devon banks was that Buckfast Abbey had been re-named Fastbuck Abbey.


Unfair of me I’m sure. It is a wonderful place to visit.

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