“My first “real” beekeeping experience was magical, to say the least. Walking through the dense evening air, I didn’t know what to expect. While I don’t consider myself a yogi, I have practiced yoga for about 8 years and someone commented in Queen of the Sun that yogis make natural beekeepers. I let this bolster my confidence. As I zipped up my borrowed bee suit, I felt similar to what I expect the bees feel like from the smoker – my vision felt clouded, my awareness of my surroundings felt dulled,and my hearing was muffled. I immediately knew I did not want to be encumbered by such a get-up in the future.
Arriving at the hives, I didn’t expect the hive to be so quiet or the area so peaceful – someone pointed out that there were only 2 hives and in most videos there are several more increasing the noise levels. Still, the bees were so calm. They seemed to just be going about their business, and tolerating our presence. Not welcoming us, necessarily, but certainly not driving us away. I love this quality in them – to me the bees represented equanimity, something I strive for in my life. I couldn’t help but think of the Serenity Prayer while watching these fascinating creatures: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Each part of the hive seemed to unlock another beautiful aspect of nature. The oranges, yellows, and golds of the pollen reflected the evening sun, creating tiny pools of the reflecting sunset in each hexagon. The women worked diligently with the honey, beeswax, and babies; doing exactly what needed to be done, carrying out the vision and mission of the community. The men, were, well…men…hanging about, waiting for handouts of food and to one day, have sex. Luckily, human men are capable of much more than this and do contribute to the community beyond just the gene pool. I love men, I really do – but these drones aren’t doing much for the reputation of their sex. I loved the bees. In every way, they spoke to me of life – a life of simplicity, of loving, of sacrifice.
The setting sun was stunning as it danced across the hives and the beekeepers. I love bees, but I love the beekeeper, too. Jim was exactly what I expected and hoped for. I love all farmers of that generation, though. I swear they hold all the knowledge and wisdom of the world in the wrinkles earned on their faces. Patient, kind, and otherworldly, with the experience of many, many lifetimes, beekeepers seem to be called into the vocation and Jim was no exception. He noticed the most detailed aspects of the hive, and like all good farmers, complained of the weather. I think this is the key to really good agriculture – instead of being small talk, the weather is a serious topic of discussion among those who live in union with the land.
I tried to include some photos of my time in the hive (BB is being difficult so maybe not) and look forward to the second adventure. I came home ready to fork over a few hundred bucks to get started, but my husband patiently convinced me I should learn a little bit more before such a big investment. At least one of us seems to be a natural beekeeper – calm, patient, and wise. Too bad it’s not me…” – Whitney Belprez