Our first summer gave us a boost of confidence. We harvested enough honey and cut-comb to keep us for a year, while still giving away 2/3 of it as gifts. We were beekeepers! Unbeknownst to us, a silent illness (mites?) had crept into the colony. Tired from their furious summer months of work, our little friends did not have enough defenses to survive, and when we opened the hive in the spring, it was complete devastation. After about a week of heart-felt grief and soul-searching, we decided to continue on, and we purchased a new swarm of bees.
Devastation struck again when one day, somewhere within the 5 mile radius that our little loves fly, pesticide was applied. Within a day, our yard contained a carpet of dead bees. You can tell when a bee has been killed by pesticides because they stumble around in a confused way, before dying with their tongue sticking out. Miraculously, the queen and part of the swarm survived, and we finished the season with enough honey for the year.
So - what have we learned? We want to be like bees! Bees are:
Family-Oriented - Bees protect their own with a ferocity that has sent many an allergic human to the hospital. But if you don't mess with them, they don't mess with you.
Hard Working - Bees work themselves literally to death. Bees live several weeks during the active summer months, and at the end their little wings are tattered and they just drop dead. This is how I want to end my life - contributing to the very end!
Life Giving - Bees are super little pollinators. Without them, our fruits, vegetables and flowers would struggle to produce! Their hardworking butterfly friends would have to pick up the slack.
(above - Bees flooding out of their home after natural bee repellent was applied prior to harvest - and they weren't even mad!)
(Look at the beautiful comb above, filled with honey and capped with wax. To harvest the honey, we scrape the layer of wax off, then spin the frame in an extractor.)
I know my daughter will this Halloween!