John Butler's Lessons From Beekeeping And 'Leave Alone Beekeeping'

Updated: 28th January 2021

"There's an old saying: "the more you know, the less you know". " - John Butler

The Wisdom Of The Bees And 'Leave-Alone Beekeeping'

Recently, I discovered a wonderful You Tube channel featuring videos of a Mr John Butler, who, at the time of writing, is 83 years old.  

In each video, this quietly-spoken, gentle, dear man shares his wisdom, sometimes responding to deep and sometimes challenging human questions about life, the mind, meditation and more.  He brings comfort to me, and I feel sure, comfort to many during these strange times.

However, the reason I decided to share one of his videos on this website is because in this particular video, John reveals why he became what he calls, a 'leave-alone beekeeper'

As well as being a beekeeper, it is clear from his videos that he has a keen love of nature and the countryside.  He was also, at one time, an organic farmer - one of the first to practice this method commercially in the UK, and he explains why he preferred the traditional farming methods at a time when farming was changing. 

Honey bees at a bee hive entrance.Honey bees at a bee hive entrance.

Below is a transcript of part of the video (the whole video is only 10 minutes long), and below that, the video itself.

John Butler:

"As a farmer, I was farming at a time when traditional farming was being taken over by rather clever scientists who knew everything about everything: how to fertilize the soil, how to control the bugs and grow bigger this and that.  I was pretty sceptical about it at the time, and the longer I farmed the more I considered the wonder of the soil and I knew just about enough science to not be too impressed by the latest science. I trusted man ever less and nature ever more....

There's an old saying: "the more you know, the less you know". 

It's quite true.

I used to look at the wonders of my soil and say; "who am I to impose my will on this miracle?".  

I used to keep bees, for 40 years I was a beekeeper.  I remember one day I opened my hive and was wonderstruck at what I saw really - the marvellous, marvellous sight that greeted me of these bees all knowing exactly what to do, and there and then I stopped trying to control them, you know, I became what's known as a 'leave-alone beekeeper', I put the lid back down, left them to it, stopped trying to impose my will on them.  I always had enough honey..."

I recommend taking a look at John's You Tube channel if you are seeking comfort and reassurance at this time - although it is obviously not a channel about beekeeping.

An elongated mass of swarming honey bees on a tree branch.A swarm of honey bees on a tree branch.

John Lewis-Stempel

A review of this beautiful nature diary

John Lewis-Stempel