Saturday, May 1, 2010
We have an active bee hive in the back yard once more. This is our second year trying for bees; last summer was a bad season for them—it was very dry during peak blackberry pollen season and they were not able to gather enough honey to survive the winter. I found my hive dead in the spring (I had my suspicions after the really cold spell in December) with bees head first in the comb, hunting for the last scrap of food. I felt unbelievably guilty—I killed my bees—until the bee keeper at the Winter Market told me that everyone lost bees. I’m trying again this year.
The bees have been in the hive about three weeks now and they are swarming around every afternoon. Lucy and I like to watch them as they enter the hive, saddlebacks packed with pollen. Usually it’s creamy or white, but, once in a while, a bee finds the fuchsia Hawthorne tree out front and there is a flash of a pink behind. It’s startling! I can hear them moving around inside, too, a soft knock, knock, knock against the sides of the hive. Sometimes, there’s a gentle hum. But the coolest thing about the hive is the constant movement towards the light; the bees fly upward in steep curves and dive-bomb down into the hive. Stand in the way and they buzz past your ear, sounding annoyed. Stay too long and one is caught in your hair. They are a peaceful bunch, though. Lucy moves right up to the entrance, sniffing around, and they do not sting her. I can open the hive, wearing my beekeeper’s hat with the veil, and they move softly around me. This may all change when I take honey out, but, right now, they add an entirely new layer of movement and life to the back yard.