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The Bee-Boy’s Song
[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy; notes on The Bee-Boy’s Song at the Kipling Society]
The Bee-Boy’s Song is a poem from Rudyard Kipling’s book Puck of Pook’s Hill. Peter Bellamy sang it on his second album of songs set to Kipling’s poems, Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye. He noted:
The bee-boy is the son of old Hobden the hedger, who although simple-minded has an inherited talent for handling swarms. This character is obviously drawn from life, and the bee lore contained in the song is completely authentic, revealing again the thoroughness of Kipling’s research. The story Dymchurch Flit explains the supernatural origins of this particular bee-boy’s ability.
Pamela Wyn Shannon sang The Bee-Boy’s Song on Folk Police Recordings’ 2011 album of songs from Kipling’s “Puck” stories, Oak Ash Thorn.
Molly Evans sang The Bee-Boy’s Song in 2015 on her debut EP Molly Evans.
Corinne Male sang The Bee-Boy’s Song on her 2015 CD To Tell the Story Truly. She noted:
I first met Peter Bellamy on my 21st birthday and was bought Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye as my birthday present by my then boyfriend, Dai, who became my husband. This setting of one of the poems from Puck of Pook’s Hill is on that LP. Peter was a friend for many years and a big influence on my singing, especially in his insistence on the importance of listening to source singers.
Rosie Hodgson sang The Bee-Boy’s Song on her 2016 CD Rise Aurora. She noted:
This is a poem by Rudyard Kipling from the book Puck of Pook’s Hill. The tune we sing here is penned by the great Peter Bellamy. #savethebees!
This video shows Rosie Hodgson and Rowan Piggott at Ely Folk Festival 2016:
The Unthanks sang The Bee-Boy’s Song on their 2020 CD Diversions Vol. 5: Live and Unaccompanied.
The Bee-Boy’s Song
Bees! Bees! Hark to your bees!
“Hide from your neighbours as much as you please,
But all that has happened, to us you must tell,
Or else we will give you no honey to sell!”
A Maiden in her glory,
Upon her wedding-day,
Must tell her Bees the story,
Or else they’ll fly away.
Fly away—die away—
Dwindle down and leave you!
But if you don’t deceive your Bees,
Your Bees will not deceive you.
Marriage, birth or buryin’,
News across the seas,
All you’re sad or merry in,
You must tell the Bees.
Tell ’em coming in an’ out,
Where the Fanners fan,
Because the Bees are justabout
As curious as a man!
Don’t you wait where trees are,
When the lightnings play;
Nor don’t you hate where Bees are,
Or else they’ll pine away.
Pine away—dwine away—
Anything to leave you!
But if you never grieve your Bees,
Your Bees will never grieve you!