Historian and cultural critic, Lata Mani tells a tale based on a true story of a bee expert in Bangalore in The Bee Master

The Bee Master was first written by Lata Mani as an e-mail to her five-year-old nephew. “I wrote it as an account of the incident that I thought he would enjoy.”

It all began when Lata found a bee colony in her house. “It is based on my experience of having a bee master come to my house, talk to the bees and take them away. I didn’t want the bee colony to be burnt and the bees to be harmed. So I called the Karnataka Agriculture Department and they put me in touch with the Government Bee Keeping Centre , and the bee expert answered the call,” Lata said at the launch of her book The Bee Master at Atta Galatta last week.

The bee expert, who has learnt to speak with bees, gently took the bees away. Lata passed around photographs of the bee expert removing the bee colony and even his visiting card, which has a picture of him with many bees forming a beard, so to speak, around his chin.

Though a children’s book, The Bee Master must be read by adults too for the lucid style of writing and beautiful illustrations by Priyankar Gupta. The picture book tells an endearing story — rock bees build a bee colony in little Gowri’s house. So her mother decides to ask Ramaiah, a bee expert, to help. The bee master tells Gowri’s mother the bees don’t have to be killed. They just need to be taken to a safe place. Little Gowri watches fascinated as the bee master collects all the bees in a sack and takes them away.

As Lata read out the story of The Bee Master, the children listened engrossed, with some even responding with shouts of surprise and happiness. Lata has written other children’s book such as The Tamarind Tree and The Spider’s Web published by Tulika and Laxman’s Questions, published by Pratham Books.

Lata next asked the children if they have written stories. Some said they have re-written old stories in a new way, while others said they have written plenty of stories. Lata said stories don’t necessarily have to be full of adventure with definite conclusions, one can weave stories from almost anything that happens to us everyday.

The Bee Master is a Tulika publication and is available in English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali.