It’s been two months since I became a beekeeper, and yesterday I ended my stint as a beekeeper. I still have the bees, make no mistake, but yesterday I decided to quit feeding them. You see, in the beginning when you buy a package of bees they have nothing but the box you give them. To give them a head start, you feed them sugar water. Yesterday I took the feeder off the hive since they have grown significantly. Now they forage for their own food as bees should. It was difficult: becoming a bee-watcher rather than a beekeeper. I worry about them. I know that I shouldn’t because they are bugs that forage for food; that’s what bees do.
But nevertheless, my mind won’t let go. They are “my” bees after all. It seems that I have a relationship with each of the 30,000 or so bees that must live in the two-deep hive that they have made home. Although I know that it is impossible, I still can’t get around the hope that they know me. The have no such thoughts, I know. All of this anthropomorphism is tiring, and yet I know that when I am done writing this I will go out back to visit them.
Yesterday they bearded the front of the box as it was hot, and as bees are apt to do; and yesterday I worried and fretted. This morning I sat in my chair outside the hive with coffee and watched as the hive came to life. Perhaps this is the life of that which I have become. It is true that it is simply a box of bugs as I have written previously, but it is a box of bugs that is full of mystery and muster a fascination that I have not had in a while. I want us to understand each other, but realistically they are barely aware of me. They do what bees do and I, well I watch what bees do.
When I open the hive see the amazing amount of work that they do, both as individuals and as a hive I am dumfounded and they continue to work. Work defines the bee. I cannot help but be a little envious of such a life: doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, for no other reason than it needs to be done. What simplicity. What directed significance; and all in six weeks or so during the summer. And now I step back and let them be what they are naturally. It is nothing to them and a major step for me.
In my determined trek to be self-sufficient I am finding that I am the most dependent of all creatures when a simple bug can teach me freedom by doing nothing more than that which it does so flawlessly. Maybe I am worried not about the bees and my feeding them, but about myself as I slowly strip away the false sense of independence replacing it with the very real sense of awareness that it is me that needs to learn to do what needs to be done, when it needs to done, for no other reason than it needs to be done. I continue to learn from a box of bugs, and am humbled to do so.