April 22, 2009

You might think, for all my excitement, there was a cow in my yard.

The bee box landed yesterday afternoon. Their door was closed and neither the farmer nor I had any real clue what was supposed to happen next. So he told me to keep the door closed. He went home and posted a query on the bee forums and I awaited answers.

I'm not all that good at waiting. I made it till 4 pm. Then the sky darkened and the temperature dropped. Here may I just say, I am so very much in love with North Carolina. I am so glad to be home to my native habitat. My cool, colorful, damp, fecund, rich homeland where my babies will now take their rightful place. Figuring that bees would be unlikely to move, en mass, with night falling and a storm brewing, I opened their door.

About twenty bees flew out, with more walking around - in and out - of the entrance. I stood and watched them a long time. I thought about all the children who were not strong enough to resist the urge to throw rocks at nests. I felt sympathy for those children. I felt a longing to see what I can only describe, what I assume those children all felt, as some action. I watched the bees, felt the rain starting to drop, and went inside.

An hour and a storm later, I went back to check on them. They appeared gone. There were no bees moving anywhere. There was no sound from the hive. I longed to open the top, but did not. The farmer called to say, "Open the door and feed the bees."

I walked back up with the lid from a glass peanut butter jar full of food. I slid it half in and half out of the entrance of the hive. I saw no bees.

This morning I wrapped on my fluffy loud pink enormous bath robe and my farm boots and went back up to the hive. Every person I've ever known drove past my yard right at that moment. But I didn't quite see them. I was too focused on the perfect silence, the lack of flying creatures of love, and the odd fact before me. Something either pushed or pulled that jar top all the way into the hive.

I had waited long enough. I gathered my courage, and my robe, and I opened the top of the hive.

People, I love bees. When the children where babies and we were living in Texas we spent a lot of time in parks. The landscape was foreign, sharp, baked, stinging, and course. I was a stranger in a strange land, with babies for company. And the babies ran in the park and chattered. And I sat still. Then one day I developed a new hobby. I began to hold bees.

You know how people freak out when a bee gets close? All that flailing. Really, it is a bit silly. More than that, it riles up the bees. In the parks in Texas, when ever a bee flew close to me, I started holding out my hand, sitting as still as possible, hopefully to hold a bee. I let bees crawl on me. I felt their tiny impossible little feet. I observed their fuzz and their shiny wings. I felt time stop and draw to an expansive and direct point, to which I was pinned. Holding bees became one of my favorite meditations. Bees became company for me. Companeros, if you will.

My father is deathly allergic to honey bees. When I was 9, he sculpted a ring for me in 22 karat gold and weighing in somewhere under an ounce. It is oddly substantial, cockeyed, and absolutely brilliant. Its a huge bee. Why a bee? He's never had an answer to that question. I wear it to this very day. The last time he ate raw honey he had to go to the emergency room. That is how allergic he is. Why a golden bee for his first daughter? I will always wonder.

When I opened the lid to the hive this morning, I gasped and I closed it mighty quick, but softly. The entire hive is clumped and clinging, attached to the top board of the hive. I am thrilled. If the bees are happy here, we will build a Top Bar hive and next spring, invite these creatures to stay.


Cecelia (CC) said...

OK, now you are showing true colors. All else pales before this. Here, emerging, showing me that I have not yet imagined the enormity of her, rises Katherine from the waters. It's hard to see you, there is light all around you. Are you really this brilliant?

Anonymous said...

Katherine from the waters. I like that, CC. I keep finding out more and more about this woman,K....layers. Like an onion. It's just like Shrek said!

Sarah said...


My father told me that growing up, his father would collect 'swarms' in their town, so they always had hives. It was fun to listen to his stories. It's much easier than people think - especially if you stay quiet and calm.

I keep meaning to update you on our poetry adventure that you helped me jumpstart... I need to get around to that.

MOM #1 said...

Oohhhh you're keeping bees now? I'm so jealous! That's our dream. Not now, but one day.