Apricot Blossoms and Bees

When we were little girls
Dad kept bees.
He’d put on that beekeeper’s garb,
a hat with a net,
and set a match inside a spouted tin-can-looking thing
and squeeze the billows
until it smoked.
Then he headed out to the line of cedars south
of the old farmhouse
where there were a couple of hives.
Once, when he brought in
the honey and honeycomb,
Mom put the honeycomb in a pot
on the stove
over a low flame
to separate the honey from the comb.
She had to make a trip to town,
so she asked Dad to keep an eye
on the honey pot.
He forgot
and when he remembered,
honey had made its way
into every crevice of the stove.
We have great memories
of honey
and bees
and honeycomb.

Now Ann is the beekeeper.
We have four hives
and beekeeping has changed
since the 1950’s.
Bees are dying now,
a threat to our very existence.
Albert Einstein said:

If the bees disappear from the surface of the Earth, {humans} would have no more than four years to live.

Last summer,
in the drought,
Ann had to feed the bees
25 pounds of sugar a week
to keep them alive
because there was nothing else
for them to eat.
She lost one hive.
This year, we are planting
more flowering plants for them,
and hoping for mild weather.
A few days ago,
they were feasting on apricot blossoms
and we were due a freeze.
One of the apricot trees
is right outside a bedroom window
at the pond house.
So, at 4 in the morning,
Ann put a fan in the window,
opened it,
and blew the room’s warm air
in the direction of the blossoms.
We don’t know if it helped,
but the blossoms survived
and the bees are capturing every morsel
of pollen.

We must tend to the bees.
The death rate for bees for 2010
was 34 percent; up
from 2009’s 29 percent.
Read the article here.

Our next beekeeping workshop
is Saturday, March 24
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Find out more and register
on our website: www.turtlerockfarmretreat.com.
All who have come to this workshop
are now happy beekeepers.
It’s one very helpful thing
we can do for the natural world,
our human home.