The Transient Dance of Bees: A Legacy of Love and Transformation

08.12.2023, Gümüşsuyu, İstanbul | a translation of a poetry in Turkish, Original Work: Dedemin Arıları

serhat bilge
3 min readJan 3, 2024

I am the steward of a garden,
home to nearly fifty beehives.
These hives, a legacy from my grandfather,
their count at his departure, I do not recall.
I never counted.
Later, I added a few hives of my own,
those too, I did not count.
The importance of their numbers, I do not know.
They are gifts from my grandfather,
and with them, a tapestry of stories.

The bees’ multiplication, they call it “swarming”.
In my childhood, my grandfather would hand me a tin can,
instructing me to strike it with a wooden stick to guide the bees.
The bees were not bats, yet
my sole purpose was not merely to guide them.
I found joy in the act
and the shared endeavour with my grandpa.
I cherished aiding him.

Now, I am the keeper of a garden teeming with bees.
I yearn to observe them.
To witness the pollen residue a bee collects from a flower,
resting on the tip of its stinger.
To watch its abdomen expand and contract,
and its antennae scratching its head.
Then, to don that white suit, which never fit my childhood frame,
and lift the lids of the hives.
I long to watch the bees take flight.
They recognized him as Grandpa claimed.
I yearn for their recognition too.
According to my grandpa, a bee stings him only to heal him.
They used to sting me out of anger.
Perhaps they were jealous of my grandfather.
I yearn for their recognition too.

As I extract the honeycombs from the hive,
I envision a charm as if performing a routine task for the first time,
within my gaze,
I cradle the honeycomb in my hand.

There stands a massive grey machine.
In the honey room, nestled behind the small house in the garden.
The towering grey, taller than my childhood self,
now, from my height, I can easily peer inside.
My grandfather would arrange the honeycombs,
and I would turn the old-fashioned crank with all my strength.
As the hoops within it spun,
though not made of wood,
they must be called hoops,
from their spinning motion. The honey would pool at the bottom of the large metal pot.
Then, from the honey faucet at the front,
honey would be transferred to the glass jars, immaculately cleaned by my grandmother.
The tale of all this honey brought my grandfather immense joy.
It did not merely bring him joy,
it gave him purpose.
He lived for his bees; he thrived for his bees.
He would bring a myriad of flowers to the front of the house for them,
and to prevent them from drowning while drinking,
he would place damp cloths at the head of the hives.

My grandfather loved beautifully when he loved.
He loved me as he loved his bees.
Sometimes I forget my grandfather,
the stories he shared,
the villages we explored together,
how he loved me,
then I forget how I love myself sometimes,
then all these desires I have,
and my dreams,
and of course, the garden I nurtured with a thousand and one labours,
I smear honey in my mouth as if sipping sugary water.
Then, in the face of all this known reality,
I separate myself from myself.

But then I remember the bees,
then my grandfather comes to mind,
and his stories,
and my garden.

Then I embark once again,
to tend to my garden,
to my bees.

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serhat bilge

a mindful poet, a visionary multidisciplinary designer and future digital anthropologist with a focus on innovation facilitation.