Ahhh! Time for another breather. Time for summer fun! Another Sister and I, and a rambunctious cocker spaniel, live with a beekeeper. She’s an 87 years old retired, senior living administrator who decided at age 80 to take up beekeeping for the environment and for her spirituality! Sometimes our relationship is sticky, but more often it is sweet! For instance, during the harvest season in late summer or early fall, the doorknobs of our house are sticky. The rails in and outside the house are sticky. Faucets are sticky. Cabinet knobs and handles of any kind are sticky. She and her friend Jim, who handles the heavy part of beekeeping, seem to mark everything they touch after they have extracted the honey in a large vat. It drips into jar after jar after jar to be sold or given as gifts. Her jars of honey are sold at the senior living facility she once administered and put toward the fund to help residents who run out of money.
Summer isn’t summer without bees. Here are some interesting facts about honeybees. Drones are the males and they are noisy! They are also always hungry, consuming three times the amount of honey that worker bees (females) consume and they never clean up after themselves! They do not produce honey. They leave the hive for several hours a day never contributing to the upkeep of the hive. In the meantime, the workers are cleaning the hive combs, including cells of the drones, tidying up the nursery (yes, there are nurseries for baby bees), and managing to keep the queen happy. Nurse bees provide a jelly for larvae and worker bees provide “royal jelly” for the queen who produces the larvae. Workers also do the shopping or the extracting of pollen to bring home. My! This is a busy house with all this cleaning and feeding and shopping! And, it must unnerve these industrious workers going about their tasks and tsk-tsking the lazy drones whose main purpose is solely to mate with the queen. Worker bees are the smartest bees in the hive. Later in the season they will sweep out the drones to their mortal end. Their carcasses are littered around the outside base of the hive. Tough love!
Speaking of the hive, some workers are guards at the entrance. They make sure no interlopers get in as drones from other hives are known to do. The temperature in a hive remains consistent no matter the temperature outside. One group of workers fan the outside air into the hive while another group fans the inside air to the outside. The temperature remains consistent up to the 90’s. This assures the production of healthy honey. Bees are warm blooded animals, technically not insects. And world-wide, there are several races of bees. They will sting only if they think their home is being destroyed or their lives threatened. There are certain prevalent viruses that we are always looking out for. The one harmful chemical we find the hardest to control is human-made toxins used in fertilizers and weed control!
Bees have a job to do and, unlike other animals, they do that job and none other. They do what God created them to do. And, they die doing it. We are the beneficiaries of their industry.
Take a walk this summer with journal in hand and notice the gifts of nature God has given us. Sketch something or write about something you see. Let summer provide a balm over the challenges of these days.
As simple as it might be, am I doing what God created me to do?
And please, all of you, my friends and my anonymous angels, wear a mask and stay out of crowds. Like the bee, we have a virus to fear. Listen to science and be safe!