Leaving Our Bees In Peace

honeybee stress, colony collapse

This has been an unusual year. Drought, extreme heat, storms. The pressure, felt by humans in temperature controlled buildings, is nothing compared to the impact nature experiences. Specifically, honeybees. I’ve been concerned about our bees since early spring. They don’t benefit from my extra attention, delivered mostly by my visits outside their hives where I stand respectfully, watching them fly from their hives, singing songs in a humble attempt to honor them.

I’ve noticed more bees on our flowering plants than in other years. I thought that was a hopeful sign. But we kept hearing dire reports from beekeeping friends. Hives lost to foul brood, to colony collapse, to mites, beetles, disease. We put off harvesting honey until late autumn.

I see the bees every day in the garden. I still harvest broccoli, although many of my plants have gone to bloom. Normally I cut those blooms to feed the cows but I can’t bear to do so when so many bees cluster in the yellow flowers, still busy collecting nectar despite the chill. I greet them as insect sisters, then move on to pluck some Brussels sprouts, some chard, some kale, a few more shelling beans.

When we finally get around to harvesting honey, late I know, we find our honeybee friends are not faring as well as we hoped. Several hives are nearly dead, the queens gone and worker bees doomed. Our top bar hive is strong, a few other colonies thrive, but the loss of those few hives feels like the loss of friends. They’d been with us for years only to perish now. I wish we could hear what bees are telling us.

We choose to harvest no honey. We will winterize with bales of straw, letting them keep every bit of honey and pollen to help them through the winter. Maybe the memory of flowers and sunshine will help them. Maybe not. But bees are a blessing that we can’t ignore in this era of genetic modification and pesticide application. They need all the help we can give them.

This winter they will cluster in a ball around their queen, moving from inside to outside to share the suffering freezing temperatures bring them. I hope we learn from our friends the bees. I hope it’s not too late.

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of "Free Range Learning," a handbook of natural learning and "Tending," a poetry collection. She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she's a barely useful farm wench. Although she has deadlines to meet she often wanders from the computer to preach hope, snort with laughter, cook subversively, ponder life’s deeper meaning, talk to chickens and cows, sing to bees, hide in books, walk dogs, concoct tinctures, watch foreign films, and make messy art. Blog: lauragraceweldon.com/blog-2/ FB: facebook.com/FreeRangeLearningCommunity FB: facebook.com/SubversiveCooking FB: facebook.com/laura.euphoria Twitter: @earnestdrollery
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3 Responses to Leaving Our Bees In Peace

  1. brenda shaw says:

    to all the folks who love raising animals and tending to the little creatures of the world. it is all prophecy my friend. rumors of wars weather, and on and on. it is going to happen and we can do nothing but pray everyday, get on our knees, repent and hope in his name Christ Jesus.
    i have a fond desire to try to protect all of Gods creatures but it is impossiable. we have to tend to the more important things our family a water source and food. we will not die if we do not have honey, but we can die if we do not have water.
    we all need to come to the bigger picture faith. a realationship with our maker.
    God Bless and love oneanother.
    earlydawn

  2. Linda Gillespie says:

    In reading Lauras’ piece on “Leaving our Bees in Peace” I knew for certain she somehow was telling all my secrets! Talking and singing to my bees,being worrried about them due to draught and disease and other horrible things. But then feeling hopeful, due to seeing many dilegently working my flower meadow and fruit trees. We too sadly, decide to leave the honey harvest for next season. Oh what man has yet to learn,if only he would pay attention to the very loud message all of nature is sending us! We can only hope spring will bring about a wonderful new birth and prosperous new year.

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