About BeeMan

Quentin arrived on Nevis in a LIAT Airliner (1 September 1987) so small he had to sit next to the pilot, his bee smoker on his lap. At immigration that day he told the officer he wished to stay two years (as an incoming VSO) but was only allowed two weeks and told to make proper arrangements in Charlestown. The VSO program is the British equivalent of the US Peace Corps. He was sent here to spend two years improving the standards of Beekeeping, but stayed 25 years. He recalls an early conversation with Augustine Merchant, then Director of Agriculture,  who welcomed him but warned him to be prepared to take “the rough with the smooth”. Never has a truer sentence been spoken. He also recalls blushing as Mr. Arthur Evelyn, then Minister of Agriculture, asked him to stand, and be introduced to a huge crowd at Gingerland High School, October 1987, World Food Day, as a beekeeping specialist.

When Isobel Byron the VSO Teachers to her home (with whom she worked, as a teacher herself at that time (1987-89), she sent word via the VSO teachers reminding them to “find and bring that beeman too. ” And so it was that I met Cecil Byron, Isobel’s father, at their home and was made very welcome. He was one of the finest Nevisian gentlemen I was honoured to know. (Later I was to get lost on Nevis Peak with his other daughter Margaret. On that ill-fated expedition Beeman lost his glasses (later found hanging in a tree far, far from the well trodden path). Cecil forgave the Beeman for this minor misdemeanor and a great friendship continued for many years.

Following Hurricane Hugo Beeman was offered funds to take bees to Montserrat on the  S/V Avontuur. Hives of bees were assembled in the Café deArts (then Trott  House yard). When he had 20 hives, he somehow found the boats and captain and loaded the bees onto the deck of the boat via a Zodiac dinghy.  Off  he sailed to Montserrat where millions of bees had perished in Hurricane Hugo (this was before the volcano erupted).

During the 1990’s, Ian Corker, of the British Development Office assigned to Nevis, and who in part had been responsible for Beemans arrival in Nevis, sent word from Anguilla (his next posting) “Please bring bees to Anguilla, funding arranged.” And. so began one of Quentin’s most ambitious, perilous and craziest escapades. He made up Nuc Hives (pronounced Nuke) from established beehives all around the island, took them under cover of darkness to Jenny Lowery’s garden and then ferried them 2 by 2 onto a LIAT Twin Otter Aircraft to Anguilla. Even Beeman was amazed and astounded to see bees bringing in pollen to their tiny Nuc hives within a half hour of being released. And the Anguillan farmers could not work out WHY their pigeon pea crops had tripled-all due to bee pollination, of course. Taking bees on LIAT  meant taking certain precautions to ensure there was no great escape, which would have spelled disaster for LIAT. Happily LIAT and the Nevis Bees buzzed along in perfect harmony, one of Nevis’ most unusual and valuable exports

When Edris Fellows heard about this buzzing export endeavour she wanted to organise “whomever” into recognizing this effort with some award from the UK. Thankfully the Government declined to follow through with this. By way of compensation perhaps Quentin and the Nevis Beekeepers were greatly honored to appear on a set of stamps of Nevis, issued June 13th, 1994. These are still available at the Nevis Philatelic Bureau. Later Beeman was to appear on another stamp disguised as Father Christmas sitting outside the High Court, at the bottom of the library steps, giving a gift to 1 or 2 small children. Mention of this will cause the Beeman to weep unashamedly- even as he sits here now .

For the first ten years of his career on Nevis he undertook his duties from the saddle of a small motorcycle, on which he used to carry everything. On one occasion he had to carry a hand honey extractor to the astonishment of passing local folks and tourists alike. When some equipment too big for the cycle (take out: to transport)  needed moving and he could not find a pickup truck he would simply hitchhike (take out: with it) from point A to point B. On one occasion he and a hive of bees ended up in a boat being towed behind a truck. On another occasion, Beeman, a hive of bees and motorcycle ended up in Cusha Bush at the side of the steepest part of Ridge Road, while he was trying to descend with bees enroute to Anguilla. Despite this mishap beeman and the bees arrived safely in Anguilla Thanks to LIAT. He wishes to thank everyone who made this possible.

February 2nd and 3rd, 1993 was Beemans darkest hour and greatest time of need when the Bee house burned to the ground. Police officers came banging on my door about 3 a.m. shouting, “Beeman, Beeman your house is on fire.” Beeman stumbled from his bed NAKED believing indeed it was his house on fire. The police fell over themselves backwards down the steps, hand over their eyes and in great confusion. But the true carnage was truly dreadful. The smoking ruins of the lovely bee house and thousands of dollars of beekeeping equipment, mostly funded with AID Agency money took nearly 2 years to re-establish with a lot of help from many people. Phil Smith was incredibly generous with financial contributions as was Vince Hubbard. The cash strapped NIA helped as best they could and we finally restored a fine old building to its former glory, keeping it as original as possible. All of this cost $80-90,000.00 US which was found by public fundraising. A special thanks to the late Ed Konczeski, a builder from Schenectady, New York who organized the actual reconstruction of the Beehouse during 1994-95.

Quentin is a little saddened he has not been able to even visit the inside of the Bee house since January 2001 except for two brief occasions. But that is another story best not told.

A further great memory of Beemans Anguilla bee adventure was being asked to bring back from Anguilla copies of the infamous but noted publication Under An English Heaven by Robert Radcliff. The Bradshaw government at one time had banned its sale on St. Kitts and Beeman was just a little bit worried of what might happen if a customs official noticed had he a dozen copies in his rucksack. So on each trip to Anguilla he would return with empty Nuc boxes crammed full of books which would be dutifully delivered to the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society who then sold them like hotcakes to all and sundry. If you have a copy…we’re pretty certain it arrived on Nevis from Anguilla inside one of Beemans Nuc-beehives with its lid screwed firmly and tightly down. This little escapade went on monthly for about 2 ½ to 3 years. It was truly a win, win situation for all concerned and Quentin was happy to be part of it all.

Quentin Henderson (BeeMan) was born in England of Scottish parents, who were fruitgrowers near Sandwich in Kent. His formal schooling was at Dunhurst (Bebales) and the Royal School, Cavan, Eire. Then followed two years of Further Education at Hadlow College of Agriculture in Kent-learning about agriculture with fruit growing. It wasn’t until later that he became interested in beekeeping while spending a summer working for a commercial beekeeper at Grimshaw in the Peace River region of Alberta, Canada, in 1977. During 1979, he was a student on the inaugural Beekeeping Technical Course at Fairview College in Alberta, and has since worked for commercial beekeepers in Southland, New Zealand (briefly) and in Glen Shee, Scotland. He completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Agriculture at the University of Wales, Cardiff, U.K., just before being posted to Nevis by VSO (Volunteer Service Overseas) in August 1987. He was inspired to write the booklet Beekeeping-The Nevis Way by his VSO colleague and friend, Paul Hilder, author of The Birds of Nevis.

Quentin has hitchhiked and worked his way around the World clockwise and counter-clockwise, and has absolutely no idea where life will take him when and if he leaves Nevis.

The Appalachian Trail is a good start.