BEEKEEPING IN THE NORTHEAST - An account of my beekeeping, not a treatise of expertise, but for friends & family who wish to keep bees vicariously through me, and for the occasional apiarist passer-by.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

All The Yukky Stuff About Beekeeping

I look forward to my bee magazines like teens used to look forward to the next issue of Tiger Beat. Do they still? I confess to having skipped over all the way- too-many articles on disease looking for all the fun stuff: building the hive, playing with wax foundations and deciding what materials to use; harvesting honey and bee behavior in their roles as worker, nurse, forager, queen, drone...fascinating.

But then my first bees disappeared in March 2010...and as I've written here, it was not sudden, just swift. Seeing those last remaining bees sitting on top of the frames as pictured below, was so poignant that all the unpleasantness of bee disease drained away while concern and determination flooded in. I began to dig out the old issues and read, read, read.

Taking apart the hive and seeing the evidenced desolation of this once teaming metropolis was not was an inspiration filling me with wonder and energy.

Even the little baby bees frozen mid cell as their efforts to be born met with the chill of an absent family; not there to protect, feed and warm them - demonstrated this colony's amazing courage in pain and uncertainty.

This lone bee, the only one left on the frame, scurries to each cell in a futile striving to be of help.

The Queen was still laying although there were only four bees at most able to perform all the duties of attendants. Not enough to feed and enclose the vulnerable eggs and larvae. Pollen stores raging in color, beautifully packed by their long gone sisters; honey neatly capped.

The very absence of the majority of the bees demonstrating remarkable feats of self-sacrifice.

Part of a silly poem, a snippet we see of life as a bee:

Harbinger by Dick Marron:

"On the front porch, alone on the shelf
Was a quivering bee, all by herself.

She was cleaning house; clearing the floor.
The husk of a sister she dragged out the door....

Now Mr. Researcher, I want you to say
What motivated that bee, to act that-a-way?

The warmth of the cluster she left to the rear
And braving the 20's came out in the air.

I don't' think she made it back to the swarm
She had only a memory of having been warm

But she worked till the end without a complaint
What made her do that, work like a saint?"

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