The Bee Kingdom revolves around the life and work of Garnett's maternal grandfather, Dr. Ahmed Zaky Abushady (1892-1955), Egyptian Romantic poet, essayist, publisher, and influential bee scientist.
In Egypt, Abushady is best known for launching and editing the Modern Arabic poetry journal Apollo (1932–34) and for founding Apollo's Society, which brought together and published poets from across the Arab world whose fresh and experimental approaches to writing Arabic poetry went against the grain.
Trained at the University of London as a physician and bacteriologist, Abushady became interested in bees and beekeeping while living in England. In 1919 he was granted a patent for a removable aluminum honeycomb by the King's Patent Agency. He held four patents to beehive improvements in total.
Abushady envisaged social change through agricultural and labor reform. To that end, he harnessed the principles of the British Co-operative Movement and put them into practice. In 1919 at Port Hill House in Benson, Oxfordshire, he founded the company Adminson, Ltd, from which he developed The Apis Club, a co-operative that fostered best practices in local and international bee husbandry. The Apis Club soon grew to include an apiary of 600 hives with a membership of over 13,000.
Abushady founded and edited two bee science journals: one in England and another in Egypt. The first was Bee World, launched in 1919 and published by The Apis Club, and which continues publication to this day through the International Bee Research Association (IBRA) in Cardiff, Wales.
After his return to Egypt in 1922, Abushady founded a society of beekeeping and bee science called The Bee Kingdom League (BKL). He launched and edited its bilingual journal (English and Arabic) The Bee Kingdom.
Abushady’s Utopian vision for a contemporary Egypt found expression in his activities in bee husbandry and poetry. He believed that the bee held secrets to harmony in nature and culture, and that poetry could bridge gaps within and between peoples.
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