Fre`re Adam

Brother Adam

Text by Raymond ZIMMER,
Horbourg, France
April 9th, 1993
[Return to Biblio] English adaptation
Peter C. G
Richard C. C
Troy, NY and Montrose, PA (USA)

It has become a truism among
bee-keepers that Brother Adam is the greatest bee-keeper in the
world. He has been called the “Pope of Bee-keepers” in an
outstanding documentary produced by York Films: The Monk and the
Honey Bee
I certainly agree with all of these accolades, so
richly deserved, but for me, there are other reasons for Brother
Adam’s greatness:

He figured out how to breed a sort of
Universal Bee (Prof. Y. Achard) without any elaborate
theoretical genetic constructions or rigorous scientific bases. This
new species of bee has proved itself superior to the established
species in every part of the world. Its salient characteristics,
simply stated, are superior productivity, resistance to disease, and a
good disposition, together with good management.

Without prudent management, the best bee in the world
would be like the Formula I racing car without a track. Brother Adam
is not given the credit he deserves for providing bee-keepers
everywhere with a simple, ingenious way, a key to quick
success. Because many bee-keepers think they always have to reinvent
the wheel, some of them, it is safe to say, manage these
Gold Bees to death. They can get no closer to
success than this!

The two principal features of this new bee cited above
(good bee, good management), could not exist without a third essential
underpinning, often hidden: a profound philosophy based firmly in

“the bee-keeper is the servant, not the master of his

(Brother Adam)

[… ]

Nothing more need be said, but it became obvious to me,
as a longtime friend of Brother Adam’s, that the most solid
philosophical or scientific underpinning could
not stand without a good intellectual and religious foundation. In
Brother Adam, this spirituality was manifested in concrete, not
abstract terms, or as St. Benedict would have it: “To create
something useful or helpful to others, with your own hands”.

The Brother Adam’s life’s work of 95 years could
hardly have accomplished as much as it did, need it be said, without
tremendous effort, careful attention to detail, and an iron
will. Notwithstanding all these superlative qualities of character and
will, my 6 children and I, and especially my wife came to know him as
a sensitive, caring soul who became a good friend.

It makes me sad to think that his superiors at
the monastery allowed one of its most creative and faithful members to
be treated so shabbily. I feel partly to blame myself, as I was unable
to convince those in power, in the spirit of Brother Adam’s abiding
Christian love of his fellow man, that such a one had been treated so
unfairly. I am afraid that such a fate befalls God’s greatest
servants all too often!

Are we bearing witness, as a monk from Taize said
30 years ago, to a victimizing quest for perfection, or are we seeing
a failure of spiritual responsibility by the younger monks who now
hold sway at Buckfast Abbey? I wonder!

One thing is sure: Brother Adam would gladly have
given one last gift to the bee-keepers of the world: he would have
shown them at least the way to a Varroa-resistant bee.

The abbot, however, would have no part of it.

May this injustice be heard by the Almighty!

Text by Raymond ZIMMER,
Horbourg, France
April 9th 1993
[Return to Biblio]
adaptation by
Peter C. G
Richard C. C
NY and Montrose, PA (USA)