By John Gribbin
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Extra resources for Mendel in 90 Minutes (Scientists in 90 Minutes Series)
As well as producing delicious honey, Mendel's bees were, we need hardly add, the subject of some (unsuccessful) breeding experiments. He became Vice-President of the Briinn Apicultural Society, and was offered the Presidency in 1871, but declined. In his capacity as Vice-President (but at his own expense), Mendel travelled to Kiel in 1871 to attend the Congress of the League of German Beekeepers. Mendel was also fascinated by the weather, and became an expert meteorologist. There was a keen interest in meteorology in Moravia, and a Meteorological Society had been established in Briinn in 1816.
If you don't get a telegram, you will know that someone else has been elected. The Schindlers did get the telegram. There is no doubt that Mendel did want the job. One of the main reasons was that the post carried with it a good income, and he would at last be in a position to repay his sister properly for the financial help she had given him when he was a student. He was already providing practical help: through his connections, Mendel's nephews went to school in Briinn, where the eldest, Joseph, taught for a while before his early death.
There they would be shown the monastery garden, and told (without much understanding) about the experiments Mendel was carrying out. He seems to have been able to maintain class discipline effortlessly, though, by being so kind and considerate that nobody ever wanted to upset him. In his work as a teacher, in spite of his indulgence towards the less able pupils, and in spite of his failure to obtain a teaching certificate, Mendel always received good reports. In the bureaucratic Austrian Empire, even the humblest schoolteacher had a file in the office of the provincial governor, and every year the file was added to with reports on the subject's suitability for his work.