Secret Life of Bees

It occurred to me that some of my readers might enjoy reading about my brush with fame. Now to write my own book that sells as many copies! I wrote the following article in 2005 telling of my experience being interviewed by Sue Monk Kidd as she did her research on beekeeping before writing The Secret Life of Bees. You can read her account of the experience on her own web page under Visit to an Apiary.

Janice Green: Secret Life of Bees has Hemingway touch

By JANICE GREEN
Morning News
Monday, April 4, 2005

My husband, Dave Green, and I were enjoying a quiet evening at home when our lives were pleasantly interrupted with an unexpected phone call.

The lady on the other end of the line said she was Sue Monk Kidd and that she had been contracted to write a novel about three spinster women who were beekeepers in the 1960s.

She said she found our names and phone number on a jar of honey in a gift shop in Charleston and wanted to know if she could visit us and pick our brains about beekeeping.

I was thrilled. I knew this was for real because I had at least heard of her. Her name was familiar from some magazines I had read.

What’s more, I had a deep desire to write books. I wouldn’t miss this opportunity for anything!

When she arrived, we sat in the honeyhouse and we shared everything we could think of about bees and beekeeping.

We discussed what beekeepers do to care for the bees, the process of gathering honey and packing it into jars to sell, what causes one batch of honey to taste different from another, bee products such as pollen and beeswax, and bees in general.

We also dressed Sue in a long-sleeved shirt and put a bee veil on her and let her see inside some bee hives to give her firsthand experience. We also gave her the URLs of our Web pages about beekeeping for information. All in all, it was a great time and one I’ll never forget.

Sue was likeable and seemed highly interested in anything we found to talk about. We even shared bee stories from before either of us became involved with beekeeping.

We later learned that she was a very private person. I once tried to contact her and did a people search on the Internet, but was unsuccessful in getting her address.

When she contacted us three years later to discuss what should be written about us on the acknowledgements page she was happy to learn that we had tried and been unsuccessful.

She was also concerned that we might not want too much information on the acknowledgements page, as too many phone calls could become a nuisance. We have had a few calls, but not so many to make us wish them away.

When “The Secret Life of Bees” was published, we went to several stores before we could find a copy. We finally found one in Charleston where she was featured as a local author.

Within a couple of months we were seeing them everywhere. We pored over the book to see if she had gotten the beekeeping part of the story accurately, and were pleased to see that she was correct right down to a lot of the details. Dave and I had a few extra thrills reading it as we discovered bits and pieces of our past woven into the storyline.

At the time of Kidd’s visit Dave and Janice Green had the largest beekeeping operation in South Carolina. It had been focused primarily on pollination service for area farmers, but had attempted branching out into honey packing and distribution into North and South Carolina – an ill-fated venture, since a flood of cheap imported Chinese honey soon dominated the market and put a lot of honey-producers out of business.

The Greens sold their bees and pollination business three years ago, though Janice keeps a few hives for her own enjoyment. Dave is the editor of The Weekly Observer.

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Copyright © 2005 by Janice Green