Saturday, October 1, 2011

Carlo the Beekeeper


I met Carlo De Marco two years ago when he began attending our local bee club meetings. He had an uncle in Italy that was a beekeeper. He was feeling a strong pull that many do when they reach their middle age--an urge to connect with their roots and their heritage.

My beekeeper friend Janice and I did a road trip With Carlo earlier this summer to our favourite beekeeping supply store. We helped him load up with all the first time beekeeping equipment. Hive parts, bottom boards, veils, helmets, etc. He bought one hive to start and planned to put it on his property.

John, the owner at Oxford Honey & Supply was there to answer a gazillion questions (he does it so patiently). Then we were invited to go outside and watch while he worked on checking his nuc boxes. There were about 30 small boxes lined up outside. John pulled frames and we observed queens and looked over brood.

The next thing I new I got stung right on my upper arm. I complained about how I got stung when all I did was stand there innocently. Then Carlo commented that he'd been stung too, right between the eyes.
I was shocked. I asked him if he was okay and he said he was. He sure looked fine - no swelling and no redness at all. Now if there's any sign that you're suited to being a beekeeper I'd say that was it. Even later when I talked to him he said he never got swelling at all.  Janice and I were jealous. We'd been getting stung and swelling up with itchy red patches.

On the drive home we talked about bees. We also chatted about our interest in the skills and trades of bygone days such as cheese making, sausage making, etc. Carlo told us about his family and relatives in Italy and the uncle that kept bees.

It was his uncle's influence that had captured Carlo's imagination and put him on the path to becoming a beekeeper.

And now sadly I must report that on 21 August 2011, Carlo, at age 51, died suddenly from a heart attack. I send my dearest condolences to his family. He will be greatly missed.  Carlo was close with his family and spoke of them with love and admiration.

I am glad I had an opportunity to meet him. There are few people willing to talk about bees for hours but Carlo well understood how beekeepers become obsessed about bees.

Carlo's back yard will hear the buzz of bees. His oldest son has decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a beekeeper. It would appear the apple does not fall too far from the tree. And we all know who pollinates those blossoms.

Carlo would like that.
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