Maurice Sendak, illustrator and author died this May 8, 2012 and many have taken time to reflect on his work and the joy he brought with his books and illustrations. Although best known for his fanciful Wild Things drawings, Sendak illustrated numerous books including an edition of a 1887 story by Frank R Stockton, titled, THE BEE-MAN OF ORN.
The Bee-Man of Orn is a curious tale about a man who is at one with his bees.
A swarm of bees had made their hive in a pocket of his old leathern doublet; and when he put on this coat to take one of his long walks in the forest in search of wild bees’ nests, he was very glad to have this hive with him, for, if he did not find any wild honey, he would put his hand in his pocket and take out a piece of a comb for a luncheon.
The Bee Man is left to himself, more or less, because many people are afraid of his bees. However, the Bee-Man is contented with who he is. The Bee-Man becomes a hero when he uses his bees to chase away a dragon and rescue a young child from the dragon’s lair. The main plot of the story, however, involves a magician who tells the Bee-Man he has been transformed and must return to earth as someone else. After much study, the Bee-Man finds no one else that he would rather be, so he returns as a baby. The mother of the rescued child agrees to raise the Bee-Man (returned as a baby) as her own. That baby grows up to be the Bee-Man, with the same habits and love of bees as the original Bee-Man.
Some entomologists and beekeepers are born that way.