By: Stephen Bishop
For those who have Netflix, I recommend for consumption: Detectorists.
This show has nothing to do with beekeeping other than the fact that it has everything to do with beekeeping. What I mean is that detectorists and beekeepers are kindred souls. The show depicts a group of people on the outskirts who have selected a strange and often misunderstood hobby, metal detecting, and are obsessed by said hobby. If beekeepers wanted to plan an uprising against the trendy people who terrorized our youth, we would choose people who metal detect as our closest allies, followed closely by mushroom foragers.
Detectorists is a subdued, but smart comedy produced by the BBC (disclaimer: it contains much understated British swearing) with excellent acting and character development, which shouldn’t be confused with Diggers, the contrived National Geographic “reality” show. Detectorists captures reality more accurately. It’s depiction of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club rings true for anyone who has listened intently to hour-long discussions of such subjects as the best paint for bee boxes and the proper form for lifting hives or anyone who has participated in adult show-and-tells of hive tools and smoker fuels.
Full disclosure here, I have a soft spot for metal detecting. As a youngster, long before I compulsively lurked on Beesource (and the mysterious Bee-L), I had discovered the glory of Treasurenet, an internet forum in which people post pictures of their latest metal detecting finds. On many days, I was my dad’s sidekick digger, hoping to unearth something worthy of Treasurenet. In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold wrote, “You do not annex a hobby, a hobby annexes you. To prescribe a hobby, would be dangerously akin to prescribing a wife – with the same probability of a happy outcome.” Metal detecting chose him; beekeeping chose me.
Yet, all this attention on metal detecting has me wondering why no comedy or reality show exists about the antics of beekeepers. I suspect we beekeepers have been typecast as too serious. Certainly beekeeping has enjoyed its fair share of serious documentaries recently. In fact, I’m not sure if I can watch another end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it documentary on what ails bees. What ails bees is beekeepers like me who accidentally set hives afire with an oxalic acid wand.
Therefore, I propose we raise funds to send a beekeeper to Alaska. If Alaskan Crabbers, Alaskan State Troopers, Alaskan Truckers, Alaskan Gold Hunters, Alaskan Homesteaders, and Alaskan Bush Clan can ink a TV deal, surely Hollywood would bite if we sent Randy Oliver or Kim Flottum to the Great White North in veiled parkas. Furthermore, I can already provide free of charge a working script for the reality show:
Episode One: Hundreds of hives, a Hummerbee forklift, a pallet of beekeeping gadgets (each will only be used once), and a beekeeper arrive at the most isolated beeyard in America via parachuted air drops with the beekeeper scrambling to detangle and retrieve hives hanging from trees, all while being chased by a grizzly.
Episode Two: Beekeeper must now mill his own wood to replace the 97 hives busted and smashed in the air drop – all by nightfall, all while being chased by a grizzly.
Episode Three: Beekeeper meets skunk.
Episode Four: Beekeeper encounters rival beekeeper over the hill who has also been air lifted (coincidentally of course) in with hundreds of hives. The two beekeepers compete for territory.
Episode Five: Big game hunters confuse hives for targets and shoot hives, killing many queens and putting the whole season in jeopardy. Under cover of nightfall, the rival beekeepers unite to build a catapult. They hurl their meanest hives into the big game hunters’ campsite and drive their common foe from the land.
Episode Six: Beekeeper realizes he is allergic to bees and goes into anaphylactic shock. He must be airlifted to hospital, again putting the season in jeopardy, only to learn the allergy was to peanut butter, after which he is parachuted back in and the season is saved.
Episode Seven: Revenge of the grizzly.
Episode Eight: An Eskimo municipality worries about the Zika virus and sprays for mosquitos, unknowingly raining down catastrophe on the beeyard.
Episode Nine: Beekeeper rushes to harvest honey before a once-in-a-thousand-years August snowfall.
Episode Ten: Beekeeper sells honey, loses a bunch of money, worries about paying bills – all while committing to come back next year after emerging from bankruptcy.
Discovery Channel, you can thank me later.