heard on the wire

I miss the bees, I miss the honey

The  Beehive of Rungis

There isn’t enough apiculture in rock ’n’ roll. Sure, there’s plenty of metaphorical honey and in some parts records are still referred to as wax, despite that material not having been used to record music since the days of Edison’s wax cylinder, but the art of beekeeping has rarely been celebrated.

Bad Beekeeping’s list of famous beekeepers doesn’t mention any musicians, not even Sting, while finding space for quite a few people who just liked honey — and Winnie the Pooh.

She Keeps Bees released their fourth LP, Eight Houses, in 2014. As far as I can tell they neither have eight houses nor keep bees. Rather, they are a duo from Wheaton–Glenmont, Maryland, who’ve been making music since 2006. With Andy LaPlant on drums and Jessica Larrabee singing and strumming, The Guardian described them as the White Stripes in reverse, but musically this is much closer to the English blues of PJ Harvey.

She Keeps Bees // Owl

Most bees don’t live in hives but in holes in the ground. ILikeTrains are not known for subterranean dwelling and their evident fondness for rail-based transport is more for the overground variety. I don’t even think this song is about bees, but what the hell.

ILikeTrains // The Hive

This, on the other hand, contains a bona fide bees reference. Taken from her third LP, Humming by the Flowered Vine, this beautiful lament is Laura Cantrell at her very best.

A while ago I wrote that Laura’s records should convert anyone with a churlish, ill-informed dislike of country: if you don’t like her records it’s not because you don’t like country, you just don’t really like music. It’s a touch strident perhaps, but I struggle to understand how anyone can’t one day fall in love with this.

Laura Cantrell // Bees // iTunes

Audio MP3


As well as shoehorning unnecessary White Stripes references into music articles, The Guardian has a list of ten best famous apiarists and like Bad Beekeeping includes a fictional character, Sherlock Holmes. However it does mention two musicians, though neither of them is Sting. (Breathes a sigh of relief at not having to include a Sting record!)

Suggs apparently gave up the hobby when all his bees died, but he continues to support the rapidly growing urban beekeeping movement in his native London. I’ve been looking for an excuse to include this track from Madness’s debut LP, One Step Beyond, if only to show that there is more to the north London outfit than their hit singles.

Madness // Bed and Breakfast Man

And who is Suggs’ beekeeping contemporary? Bez.

Happy Mondays // Step On

Photo: The Beehive of Rungis by Hervé; all rights reserved.

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