The Beekeeper and the Big Bad Monk

By: Stephen Bishop

Once upon a time, a young downtrodden beekeeper, Fred, slogged up a mountain to visit a beekeeping monk. He was the wisest monk in the land, or at least that’s what the billboard on the mountain path implied: “IN A FUNK, COME SEE THE MONK—WISEST MONK IN FAIRYTALE LAND!” read the billboard. But the snappy advertising did little to perk up poor Fred. Sadly, Fred felt even more depressed as the path snaked through a forest filled with gnarly old sourwood trees—each tree a reminder of his terrible predicament.

“To beekeep or not to beekeep. That is the question,” Fred thought to himself. Alas, his sweet loving wife, who once encouraged his beekeeping hobby, had recently reversed course and rendered an ultimatum: Either he quits beekeeping for a new hobby that doesn’t involve extracting honey in her newly remodeled cottage kitchen or she quits him and finds a new soulmate. Thus, Fred journeyed to seek wise Brother Yart, a portly old monk whose depth of wisdom was rivaled only by his breadth of waistline. In fact, hood up, in brown monkish attire, Brother Yart resembled a large woodland creature, namely a bear. Which is why Fred shouted “Ye gads, a bear!” upon finally reaching the anchorage and glancing over at the apiary in the backyard.

“Good lord, you nearly scared me to death, sneaking up behind me like that!” said the bear. Of course, a talking bear in Fairytale Land isn’t too far-fetched, but in this case it was no bear, just Brother Yart, who looked like a bear and was working his bees. He was surprised to turn around and see Fred staring at him.

“You nearly scared me to death,” replied Fred. “I thought you were a…”

“…bear—yeah I get that a lot.” said Brother Yart. “What can I do you for? Beekeeping advice, spiritual advice or bulk purchase of sourwood mead? Got a special bundle price this week if you’re interested in all three.”

“Wait, you have to pay for advice?” asked Fred.

“Sure, how do you think I keep up this plush little anchorage. Beekeeping ain’t gonna pay the bills alone.”

“Wait, are you sure you’re the wise old monk that everybody talks about?”

“Yep, that’s me, Brother Yart, wisest monk in Fairytale Land.”

Reluctantly, Fred purchased the beekeeping advice. But Brother Yart, upon hearing Fred’s dilemma, required Fred to buy spiritual advice as well. “Yep,” he said, “anything dealing with soulmates is the spiritual realm.” To Brother Yart’s credit, he gave Fred a thorough advisory session, counseling Fred on life priorities and saying such wise things as, “Son, it’s better to be loved by one woman than to keep the company of many bees, plus divorce lawyers in Fairytale Land are pretty pricey. Last year, Snow White divorced Prince Charming and by the time the lawyers took their cut, Prince Charming was living in his horse-drawn carriage.”

Indeed, the consultation lasted so long that Fred became quite parched and requested refreshment to quench his thirst. Brother Yart obliged and sold Fred many foaming mugs of sourwood mead, after which Fred, possibly impaired from his libations, said,“Yart, buddy ole pal, you’re right, I should donut, ha ha, I said donut, I mean donate my hives to you… then live happily ever after with my wife.”

For a large man, Brother Yart could move fast, and he quickly retrieved his standard donation contract from his filing cabinet and got Fred to sign over all his hives, right before the young man stumbled and passed out.

“Stout stuff. Gets ‘em every time,” chuckled Brother Yart.

Of course, most children think the moral of this fairy tale is to beware of beekeeping gurus because some are sophisticated swindlers. And that would be the moral if the story ended there. But sadly Fred hit his noggin hard after his heavy drinking and thereafter suffered sporadic bouts of amnesia. This explains why, when Fred later saw what appeared to be a bear carrying away one of his hives, he retrieved his shotgun and peppered Brother Yart with birdshot. And this explains why, milliseconds later, Brother Yart dropped the hive on his foot and was instantly enveloped in a cloud of angry bees.

So the true moral of this fairy tale is, “Karma stings.”

Stephen Bishop keeps bees in Shelby, NC. For the record, his wife has not rendered an ultimatum, although honey extraction is now forbidden in his kitchen. You can sign up for his weekly blog post at or follow him on Twitter @TheMisfitFarmer.