She liked to tell everybody that women made the best beekeepers,
'cause they have a special ability built into them to love creatures that sting.
It comes from years of loving children and husbands.
-Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
My bees came yesterday. I am a real life beekeeper now.
If you've been around here any time at all, you might remember me going on and on about wanting to keep bees. I mean, wear-the-suit and rob-a-hive and nurse-bee-stings kind of keep bees. Local, red clover honey was calling me. So was my own beeswax for making candles and salves. Then along came The Secret Life of Bees, and the obsession solidified: I had to find a way to get a hive.
And yesterday, under the gathering gray sky, it finally happened. The bee man came with girls for my hive.
The bees came from a well-respected bee man about an hour away. His girls are chemical-free and bred to be gentle. He's also inspected by the state, ensuring scary issues like disease and the varroa mite- the believed reason for colony collapse disorder and bee shortages everywhere- will not be a problem. Hopefully. Hopefully not. I will have to stand guard.
I like Jesse because he's soft spoken and completely, bewilderingly calm, even when the bees land on his bare skin. Being near him, I wasn't afraid, either. In fact, I was enthralled. I lifted and examined the frames before installing them in my new hive. The only time the bees got agitated was when, like the klutz I am, I bumped the third frame while installing it. Jesse said nothing for a moment, then, softly, "Yeah. They don't like it when you drop them."
Can you spot the queen?
So here's my hive. These are the girls that will (literally) work themselves to death over the next several weeks building a hive, nursing brood, guarding the colony, gathering pollen and nectar, drawing out comb, and making honey. Among other things.
By twilight, right before darkness fell, the wayward bees found their way inside the new hives. I stood outside, listening. Their buzzing is hypnotic. Have you ever heard the sound coming from a beehive? It's the warmest, fullest, steadiest hum you've ever heard. Your heart hears it.
Much, much more to come on beekeeping. So much more... -Brin