Exerpt of my Br. Beekeeper Story on Catholic News Service

Beekeeping a spiritual endeavor for Wisconsin Redemptorist brother

OCONOMOWOC, Wis. (CNS) — If one roams the Redemptorist Retreat Center’s 20 acres of natural woodlands, the only sounds to be heard breaking into the silence are those of nature. Listen closely, and the hum of honeybees busy at work may draw even the most unnerved a bit closer. Several hives in a corner of this Oconomowoc haven contain thousands of bees. They fly out; they fly in, collecting pollen from the sweet-smelling columbine, lilies and other wildflowers that line the property. Affectionately known as Brother Beekeeper, 62-year-old Redemptorist Brother Gerry Patin, director of the retreat center, lovingly tends his bees. Each of his 14 hives contains between 50,000 to 60,000 bees during the honey flow season, and can weigh more than 100 pounds by the end of summer. Each colony has a queen, tens of thousands of workers who make the honey and hundreds of drones who mate with the queen, then die; to that, add the weight of the comb with eggs, brood and larvae, pollen stores and honey. In general, beekeeping is easy and fun, according to Brother Gerry, and while considered a hobby, it was one he entered into unexpectedly early in his religious life. “It was 1969 when stationed at our high school seminary in Edgerton, Wis.,” he explained. “The brother taking care of the bees was transferred and I was asked if I would be interested in taking over the 10 bee hives that were at that facility. I responded, ‘absolutely.'”

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