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Happy 90th Birthday to Mary Chris

Kate Shawyer

10 May 2024

MARY CHRIS has been a member of Chalfont’s Beekeepers since 1991 (that’s 33 years!) and she has made a very considerable contribution to the running of the club and being instrumental, along with Beulah Cullen, in setting up our amazing education programme. In 1999 there was virtually no education courses at the society – once  Mary Chris and Beulah got started, our program has grown to what it is today, for which we should all be very grateful. Shestill keeps her colonies in her WBC hives.

Now a little about Mary Chris, and how she started beekeeping!

Canon Gelvin got Sr  Mary Chris interested in beekeeping when he took her to St Bernard’s monastery in Northamptonshire, 48 years ago. You might not be surprised to know that  Mary Chris already kept lemmings, gerbils, a parakeet and a zebra finch - so,   she thought ‘Why not keep bees?’!

She was teaching in Corby, happened to notice an old hive and found a swarm.  She knew absolutely nothing about beekeeping, the bees swarmed but she was hooked.

An ex pupil built her a WBC hive from scratch – a hive she still has today. The convent sisters eventually got a car and  Mary Chris found Northamptonshire Beekeepers Assoc where she met Adrian Waring who was running a small study group which she joined. She prepared for her first beekeeping exam which she passed.  Mary Chris joined a small woodworking group and she (supported patiently by her tutors) made another couple of WBCs (which she also still has today)

In 1991  Mary Chris was moved to Holy Cross Convent in Chalfont St Peter along with her hives. She transported them, 2 at a time, down south. All was well until the bees in one of the hives which suffered from lack of tape, escaped and she saw them crawling up the windows of her hatch back in her rear view mirror whilst her dog sat on the front passenger seat!

In 1991 she joined Chalfont’s Beekeepers, which was quite a small group then. She was invited to join the committee and then became Education Officer after a few years!

As Education Officer she took on the basic assessment training and started the module groups which our current ones are now based on. Working with Beulah Cullen, Mary Chris basically laid the foundation of the excellent education system the club enjoy today. And the rest is history……

So here’s wishing Mary Chris a very happy 90th birthday!

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