This marks my third summer working with the bees. I was thinking that 3 years sounds like a long time but it is nothing in helping me understand such a great mystery as the honeybee and the hive. Among beekeepers it is said that in order to be considered a beekeeper you need 5 years under your belt. Most people make it 3 at most. I understand why.
Last year, true to personal form, I thought I understood beekeeping pretty well. I worked with and studied under some great teachers and movers and shakers in the bee world. I went into a lot of hives and saw a lot of different bee realities. I knew what was going on most of the time and felt pretty comfortable in my work. That was until the cords were cut and I was out on my own. On my own and often too proud to ask for guidance…
Fear is the biggest hurdle in this work. It is not the fear of being stung that gets me. It is more the fear of upsetting a volatile being. It is the fear of hurting someone who cannot afford any more hurt. It is the fear of my own power to foster life and manifest death. With thousands of stinging insects buzzing in my ears all of these fears come rushing to the surface, forcing my heart to beat faster and harder, causing my entire body to quiver uncontrollably as if I had just downed a gallon of coffee.
With all of this fear I would forget to breathe.
Without breath it is likely I will make a fatal mistake. And I have.
Thousands of bees can live or die at my hand. That is a huge responsibility for someone who shies away from such things. One wrong move and the whole thing could end. One thoughtless manipulation and the bees could have a few weeks of recovery from my lack of forethought, or thought of their needs over my own.
This is beekeeping. This is learning.
Add to all of this disease and mites and my sleep is lost at night. I see why folks quit after 3 years. The pain of losing hives, of seeing your sweet little ladies inundated with those little blood sucking parasites. To see her little legs trying futilely to remove the mite that is so perfectly positioned so that the bee cannot get her off. To see the babes with shriveled wings and shrunken bodies is heartbreaking. Small hive beetle, wax moths, wasps, mice, ants, you name it…we are all after what the bees got. How about witnessing a brutal war between a weak hive and a strong hive. The strong hive will come and destroy the weak hive and steal all of it’s honey. Peaceful my ass!
When times are good, times are good. Nectar is flowing, brood is being born, the hive grows, the honey is stored. Everyone is happy and full of love and light. But when the slim times come. Well, you know. It’s ugly.
Mainly though, what I am doing is projecting my inner process onto the bees. I imagine this is much of the medicine that they offer up to us; and have offered up to us for thousands of years. They are healers and I a humble servant. My fear is for all sacred mysteries and I pray that we will make it through these challenging times together. I pray that in 2 years I will have a big beekeeping initiation. We will all do a waggle dance together to celebrate the harvest of health and prosperity as well as human submission to the divine wisdom of nature.
Is anyone reading this? Is blogging as inane as I believe it to be?