Bee Swarm at BriarCroft

beeswarm5148

 

A swarm of honey bees appeared yesterday on our old walnut tree (the front yard tree house tree) and by dusk, a local bee keeper I had called came to box up the majority of them to take home to a new hive.  There are still a few left this morning (see below) which she plans to return to fetch this morning.

A bee swarm becomes an amazing single-minded organism of thousands of individuals intent on one purpose: survival of the queen to establish a new home for her safety and security, thus ensuring survival for all.  I am grateful they stopped off here at this farm for a bit of a respite, and wish them well under the nurture of a gentle apiarist who, for forty years, has loved, respected and honored bees by working for their well-being.

 

A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly
.
-An Old English Ditty

 

beeswarm51410

 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

~William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree

 

beeswarm2

 

Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.
~Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

 

beeswarm5143

 

When the air is wine and the wind is free
and the morning sits on the lovely lea
and sunlight ripples on every tree
Then love-in-air is the thing for me

I’m a bee,
I’m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,
That’s me.

I wish to state that I think it’s great,
Oh, it’s simply rare in the upper air,

It’s the place to pair
With a bee.

If any old farmer can keep and hive me,
Then any old drone may catch and wife me;
I’m sorry for creatures who cannot pair
On a gorgeous day in the upper air,
I’m sorry for cows that have to boast
Of affairs they’ve had by parcel post,
I’m sorry for a man with his plots and guile,
His test-tube manner, his test-tube smile;
I’ll multiply and I’ll increase
As I always have–by mere caprice;
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy free,
Love-in-air is the thing for me,

Oh, it’s simply rare
In the beautiful air,
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate

With whatever drone I encounter,
All hail the queen!

~E.B. White from “Song of the Queen Bee” published in the New Yorker 1945

 

beeswarm5147

 

One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees…
~Leo Tolstoy

 

beeswarm51411

 

The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.
~Henry David Thoreau

 

beeswarm5141

 

…The world was really one bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places.
Don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you.
Still, don’t be an idiot; wear long sleeves and pants.
Don’t swat. Don’t even think about swatting.
If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates while whistling melts a bee’s temper.
Act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved.

~Sue Monk Kidd

 

beeswarm5142

 

Such bees! Bilbo had never seen anything like them.
“If one were to sting me,” He thought “I should swell up as big as I am!
~J.R.R. Tolkien from The Hobbit

 

what's left behind this morning, waiting for the beekeeper's return
what’s left behind this morning, waiting for the beekeeper’s return

whatsleft2

 

When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer; you may want to visit the bee’s house some day.
    -Congo Proverb

If Bees Are Few

cornbee

beeblu

Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.
~Ray Bradbury

Bees are having a rough time of it to the point of making the cover of Time Magazine this summer so when I see a honey or bumble bee doing its job, it is cause for celebration.

The world depends on the revery that brings the spicy smell of pollen from a million flowers to the lowly feet of the bee.
May it be, may it be.

We should only know such reverie.

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, a
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
~Emily Dickinson

sunset8318

snaps

thistleblossom

yellowbunch

A Fragile Citadel

nest2…And I think
They know my strength,
Can gauge
The danger of their work:
One blow could crush them
And their nest; and I am not their friend.

And yet they seem
Too deeply and too fiercely occupied
To bother to attend.
Perhaps they sense
I’ll never deal the blow,
For, though I am not in nor of them,
Still I think I know
What it is like to live
In an alien and gigantic universe, a stranger,
Building the fragile citadels of love
On the edge of danger.
~James Rosenberg from “The Wasps’ Nest”

It hangs undisturbed from the eastern eave of the old milk shed, away from view from the house but its busy citizens visit our picnics, greedily buzz our compost bin, shoot bullet-like out of the garbage can when I lift the lid.  This nest is their nighttime respite for a few more months before a freeze renders the them to slow motion.   Winter hibernation will be a tenuous business for this paper home, as it faces battering from northeasters, likely to be soaked, torn and shredded in the harsh winds.

Yet for now, their fierce hold to security will remain undisturbed.  Let the winter deal the blow.

As I am not in or of them, I cannot cast the first stone.
Still I think I know what it is like to be hanging there waiting. hornetnest1

Anger is as a stone cast into a wasp’s nest.
~Pope Paul VI

Spicy Feet

photo of bee on a lemon blossom by Nate Gibson

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

I admire the honey bee’s ability to become pollinator and pollen gatherer simultaneously, facilitating new fruit from the blossom as well as making sweet honey that carries the spicy essence of the flower touched.

As a physician, I wish I might be as transformative in the work I do every day.  I carry with me tens of thousands of patients I’ve seen over thirty years of medical practice.   There is no way I can touch another human being without keeping some small part of them with me–a memory of an open wound or the scar it left behind, a word of sorrow or gratitude, a grimace, a tear or a smile.  Each is a flower visited, some still in bud, some in full bloom, some seed pods ready to burst, some spent and wilting and ready to fall away.  Each carries a spicy vitality, even in their illness and dying, that is unforgettable and still clings to me.  It has been my privilege to be thoroughly dusted by those I’ve loved and cared for.  I want to carry that on to create something wonderful.

Each patient changes me, the doctor, readying me for the next patient by teaching me a gentler approach, a clearer explanation, a slower leave-taking.  Their story becomes part of my story, adding to my skill as a healer, and never to be forgotten.

Physicians do have blessings in the work they do, you know, and if they don’t they should, for they are dusted with stories from a million patients visited.

Nothing could smell as spicy and nothing could taste as sweet.

Summer’s Wild Inventions

photo by Nate Gibson

One day in summer
when everything
has already been more than enough
the wild beds start
exploding open along the berm
of the sea; day after day
you sit near them; day after day
the honey keeps on coming
in the red cups and the bees
like amber drops roll
in the petals: there is no end,
believe me! to the inventions of summer,
to the happiness your body
is willing to bear.

– Mary Oliver “The Roses”

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson