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When Ann checked the bee communities
yesterday, she opened the lid
on a mystery.
She found plenty of honey
for their winter food supply.
(And the candy boards
she had made for them,
just in case,
were mostly uneaten.)

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There was plenty of pollen,
indicating the plants had enough water
to provide pollen.
Seven of the hives
were still full of bees.
But in three,
there were no bees,
and only a few dead ones.
She had checked in on them
about a month ago
and all seemed well. Now
they were gone.

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The missing bees
will continue to be a mystery,
but trying to figure out that mystery
is all about helping them
survive these days
of weather pattern changes,
threats to habitat
and the factors causing
colony collapse.
In this case,
perhaps
they couldn’t keep warm for some reason
during a cold snap…
perhaps
the oldest frames had collected
too many toxins in the foundations…
perhaps during these recent
warm days,
they produced so much honey
they thought they were out of room
and moved out…

As much as Ann
and other experienced Oklahoma beekeepers
have learned,
there is always more to learn,
which is why the beekeepers get together
once a month. So far, still early in the year,
many Oklahoma colonies have disappeared.
Here at Turtle Rock Farm,
Ann will replace the oldest foundations,
dark now with toxins,
with new ones. (And she’ll welcome
volunteers to help with this big project!)

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She’s considering planting
Bradford Pear trees nearby
because they would provide
early blossoms.
Already, she uses several natural means
(including laying a piece of micro fiber cloth
on the top of the hive
and using wintergreen oil in sugar water
and candy boards)
to prevent harmful insect invasions.

Like all parts of nature,
the human
and the bee
working together
can bring life to both.
Sweet, golden food
and pollination of other plants
necessary for human food
are the most obvious human benefits
of this relationship.
Too, in discovering the gentle art of beekeeping,
humans have the privilege
of getting to know
the fascinating life of bees,
and, as they come to try to think
like a bee colony so they can offer
them a healthy, safe home,
increase their own empathy.
The wee bee could actually teach humans
that we are interdependent
with all life on the planet.
The wee bee could actually teach humans
to live as if everything we do matters
to all life.
I wonder, and doubt,
that the bee will ever know
its beneficial impacts on humanity.
I hold some hope
that we can help the bee
sustain life.