Unless Holmes, with his considerable competence in chemistry had found some way to synthesize cocaine out of honey, he would have been strung out on drugs within weeks of moving to the country. Since he did indeed retire to the country, there must have been something to occupy his active mind. I contend that he retired to the country to write his magnum opus - The Whole Art of Detection - as he promised. The bee book was simply a front to justify his many visits to the local library and to distract, as a red herring, the less active minds of the solid, yet stolid, Watson.

      Why would he delude his faithful colleague for those many years? I humbly suggest that he did not want to embarrass his friend with his low opinion of the accounts of the cases. He had indeed expressed such an opinion to Watson's face in occasional flashes of anger:

You have attempted to tinge it (detection) with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you had worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid [THE SIGN OF FOUR].

--- you have erred perhaps in attempting to put colour and life into each of your statements, instead of confining yourself to the task of placing upon record that severe reasoning from cause to effect which is really the only notable feature about the thing [THE COPPER BEACHES].

However, the carefully documented publication of this opinion is an entirely different matter.

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