Saturday, August 11, 2012

Corsham, Wiltshire


Being busy together

Bees and their hives have been powerful symbols for thousands of years – probably ever since human beings first observed communities of bees working together and first tasted the honey they produced. As well as standing for sweetness (think of the madrigal "Sweet honey-sucking bees" by John Wilbye and "the bag of the bee", icon of sweetness in "Her Triumph", Ben Jonson's most mellifluous lyric) they're also symbolic of industry, especially industry that involves working together. And that's why bees and hives have been powerfully symbolic of the Co-operative movement ever since it was founded in the 19th century.

So I wasn't surprised to find out that this plaque showing an old-fashioned bee skep, high above a shop window in Corsham, was put there by the local Co-op when they built their shop here in 1906. Whoever carved the plaque thoughtfully included some flowers for the bees too. A century on, there's still a Co-op in Corsham, but on a different site. However the concern for bees continues with   "Plan Bee", the Co-op's campaign to support much-needed pollinators in our gardens, market gardens, and fields. From this Arts and Crafts influenced plaque to Plan Bee, advertised on my pot of breakfast honey, the link between natural and commercial cooperation is still vital.

4 comments:

worm said...

I LOVE stone representations of bee hives! especially when they add little carved bees...

Shirley said...

Lovely carving ... :0)

Philip Wilkinson said...

Worm: There's a nice one in Wenceslaus Square, Prague, with gilded bees. Picture here.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Shirley: Glad you like it! Now I need to find one with actual bees carved on it too.