PODCAST EPISODE 62: Vearna Gloster, beekeeper, poet and author, Trinidad and Tobago, South America
Beekeeping is an ancient and expansive practice that continues to be part of cultures from all over the world. This is one of the aspects of beekeeping that I am most humbled and excited by; also, it means that I have the privilege and joy of meeting people like long-time beekeeper, educator, poet and author, Vearna Gloster of Trinidad and Tobago – a dual-island Caribbean nation near Venezuela, with distinctive Creole traditions. It is my total pleasure to introduce my community to Vearna for episode 62 of the BEES WITH BEN beekeeping podcast.
Interested in bees from a young age, Vearna asked her mother if people “mined” (or kept) bees– delighted that her mother said yes, she soon realised that in fact a cousin of hers had been a beekeeper for a number of years; at that stage, keeping stingless bees. Soon after, Vearna’s husband at the time connected her with a beekeeper in the local village. The more time she spent with the beekeeper, learning the processes and ways of apiary, the more she was hooked: “I had no idea how intoxicating it would become.” Of course, like all life-long practices, there were challenges, ups and downs, along the way – some to do with beekeeping itself and others to do with Vearna’s personal life and financial wellbeing. But after the end of her marriage, and just a few months into a new career in the security field to gain independent employment and income, Vearna returned to beekeeping, purchasing five nucs. She kept her colonies on her brother’s property in Tamana; however, this too provided considerable challenges. The river Vearna needed to cross to get to her bees was very dangerous during the wet season, and her family, especially her mother, was very concerned for her safety. She decided to leave her bees to her brother but continuing to attend beekeeping meetings in Trinidad and Tobago, keeping up to date with apiary news. Soon after, she wrote her first poem on honey which topped the charts in her local area! Vearna’s passion for poetry saved her from the loss she had experienced, both of her family but also her bees. She now has a successful partnership with another beekeeper and continues to write about bees and educate her community about the vital connection between bees and sustainability.
Tune in to hear Vearna and I chat about life in Trinidad and Tobago, the challenges of becoming and staying a beekeeper, and how writing has helped her combine her passions.