Thursday, June 4, 2009
In the bees
I smell like smoke right now. Smoke from my bee smoker. There will probably come a time when I don't use it, but right now it is a bit of a safety net for me. The ritual of lighting it, puffing the bellows, waiting for the paper to catch, waiting for the fuel to catch, and puffing the bellows again settles ME down before I head up the hill to the bees. They say that the smoke calms the bees down, or, shall I say, makes them run for cover. Thinking about them running for cover makes me know that there will come a time when I don't use the smoke. But right now I do.
Last year I was a nervous wreck about the bees. I was not sure if I was doing anything right. And I made the mistake of having three or four people I was asking advice from. The joke is that if you ask four beekeepers a question you'll get seven answers. It made me wild, balancing the discomfort and uncertainty.
I lost my bees this last year. Maybe it got too cold or maybe there was not enough food or maybe the colony was not big enough or maybe something else happened. I don't know. But while I was on the bike ride a local beekeeper brought new bees to my hives and they seem to be doing well.
At this time of year it is essential to make sure they have enough room to expand. If you don't give them enough room, they will swarm and leave and that's all well and good if your intention is to send bees out into the world. But if, like me, you want to have a strong hive right here, one that makes honey enough to keep the colony alive through the winter, well, you don't want them flying off in a not-enough-room swarm.
Today I looked to see how they were doing and to see if I needed to add another super to either hive. The hive on the left already has a shallow super stacked on top of the two hive bodies. The one on the right is not far enough along to need that super yet. And after looking I decided that they are okay for now. I'll check back in a week or so.
After I looked in the hives I sat in the rickety chair I keep up there and just watched. It's a magical, mysterious, miracle to get to sit that close to wild beings, watching them fly in and out, filled with pollen on their legs and with so much nectar that they sometimes miss the landing board and fall to the ground. We're in the middle of a good strong honey flow and the bees are very busy.
I am finding that belief comes slowly. Belief that this shall pass, that this path I am on is the path, not a detour or a dead end or anything other than exactly where I am supposed to be. That's a hard one to absorb, feeling so wobbly and foggy. But this IS the path. This, this right here IS the Golden Thread and that is the truth. The Golden Thread is not always light and breezy and fun and easy. But this, this harder time is what you need to be IN, fully IN, in order to get to that other stuff.
I think. I don't know.
I might be right. Or I might not.
I do know that bee smoke smells good and bees sound good and look good and calm me down. One bee walked around in my hair and when I noticed the tickle I brushed it off, thinking it was a stick. It was a bee and it flew off. No stinging necessary.
That much is what I do know. It's not a whole lot. But it is a start. If they make enough honey this year I'll ask them to share it with you. The Golden Thread. Beautiful.