I remember when I was teaching my now 15 year old niece to climb trees. It was late spring in the budding forest and we were crossing a thick patch of mud. The only way to get across without getting dirty was in the trees. So we went up. I saw the fear in her eyes as I encouraged her to go to the next tree. "I can't" she whined.
It was in that moment when I realize 'can't' is the only thing that could make her fall. 'Can't' was the only thing that got in the way of her making that confident swing from one tree to the next. I knew she could, but it was in the face of her knowing that she could not. I explained to her that when one takes risks such as climbing trees one has to believe in themselves otherwise gravity will win. When you reach your small hand over to grab that branch and you do it with trepidation, you will have a weak grasp and may lose it. You have to grab the branch and swing your foot over with confidence, trusting that it will land where you want it to and the next tree will hold you just as this tree has. If you second guess any of that, in the mud you will go. I showed her how I do it and encouraged her to follow. She made the leap and we made it home tracking little mud behind and a new word in our conversation. Can.
But 10 years later and I find myself forgetting that word. The bees have mites, they are being robbed and any attempt of feeding them seems to be causing more harm than good, the hive is not tight, the bees, pollen and nectar are in too many different areas. I go in to help them with treatments for mites and they sting like a colony of killer bees. I can't. I just can't do this. Beekeeping isn't meant for me. I am a woman...too sensitive, too weak. I think too much, I don't do enough, I anthropomorphize, I just cannot do this!
There is a rush that happens when I crack the propolis seal on the inner cover over the hive. The ladies come up and greet me. Sometimes calmly, often with a bit of 'what the hell?!' My hands shake and my body trembles. My heart beats in my head. I feel my insides being exposed as I expose hers. "Am I doing this right? Am I hurting them? Am I smart enough, good enough, sure enough?" They smell fear. They smell doubt. They insist with their piercing poisoned stings that I am not. "Go Away!" they insist.
And so I do. The belief of 'I can't' has permeated this hive. In beekeeping one has to make split second decisions and be confident in them. Like climbing trees or rocks. Angry bees are the gravity of the situation ready to take you down and swell you up if you do not move with stealth and care.
Consciousness of my body and their body, care for each movement and each split second decision is of utmost importance when working a hive. Last week I had to go into the hive and tighten it up. I took a lot of deep breaths and listened to their responses to my attitude. When They got worked up ('what the hell are you doing moving my home around?!') I breathed deeply and moved within the resistance. They were very calm when the hive was put back together minus one box. Love and vulnerability made the work possible. Can is a word that is being remembered again as I work with these amazing bugs!