The years that followed, during which May grew extremely close withE. Franklin Peace, an eccentric plumber and beekeeper and May’s step-grandfather “who made honey in an old military bus in Carmel Valley in the 1970s. There she found refuge from her turbulent childhood home and a model for benevolent human relationships in the magical world of bees.” That relationship serves as the foundation of The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees, May’s 2019 memoir, which she’ll discuss at a free event at the Outdoor Art Club on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 1pm.
May is a fifth-generation beekeeper who keeps six hives in San Francisco’s Connecticut Friendship Garden. She also previously spent 16 years as a reporter and feature writer for the Chronicle, for which she was shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize for her Operation Lion Heart series that documented a 10-year-old boy’s recovery from a devastating explosion in Iraq.
After completing a draft of The Honey Bus in 2015, May left the Chronicle and “had a few nibbles, no bites” from agents. Over time and through another writing experience, she realized The Honey Bus was essentially a “monster-mom memoir” that needed a higher calling.
“My story’s more about the unusual, lovely way I was rescued by my grandfather and the bees,” she told the Chronicle in 2019. “He spoke in metaphors, using the bees as examples of the proper way to behave. What he found noble and admirable in the way bees lived translated into his moral code for humankind.”
The 411: Beekeeper and former San Francisco Chronicle reporter Meredith May discusses her 2019 memoir The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees at the Outdoor Art Club on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 1pm. Free. One West Blithedale Avenue, Mill Valley.