A Sense of Place: Wooden Beehives In Heather

Little Sparta

The heather is flowering at the moment, turning green hillsides purple. While we have lots of heather on Darwen Moor, I haven’t seen it looking as pretty as in these two pictures, both taken in Scotland during a recent trip. The first shows the view looking outwards from Little Sparta, home of the late poet Ian Hamilton Finlay and his wife, Sue. I highly recommend a visit.

Taking a long, but scenic detour on our way home, we happened upon these wooden beehives next to a stream in a Scottish valley. If it is true that the highest quality of honey comes from bees able to forage in unspoiled, natural surroundings, I would love to sample a jar from these hives.

Wooden beehives in Scottish heather with a stream running by

This bucolic sight helped ground our visit to Little Sparta by echoing its elements. Ian Hamilton Finlay’s beehives may have been white rather than patchwork colours, and poetic rather than functional, but it’s easy to see the commercial hives and the artwork are rooted in one beautiful place. And, believe me, one or two of the bees on the hillside, in protecting their territory, were as bold as anything commemorated or foreshadowed by the complex works of Little Sparta.

Ian Hamilton Finlay Beehives


39 Replies to “A Sense of Place: Wooden Beehives In Heather”

  1. I sampled wild heather honey in Ireland one year and it really is delicious. Can you not find the owner of the hives and perhaps buy some? Lovely pictures and nice text to go with it.

  2. I’ve often read descriptions of the heather in Scotland but your two photos are definitely worth a thousand words or more. The first is really a very nice landscape.

  3. Beautiful colors in the heather. And do the bees then produce heather honey? that used to be my father’s favourite honey. It was dark and tasted too strong for me.

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