Honestly, I think this love affair has been bubbling near the surface for a while. However, just recently it has reemerged with a vengeance. I’m referring to an amazing passion for honeybees and pollinators in general. In part this resurrection began strangely enough a while back with the viewing of Avatar and the subsequent reading of a person’s post on some Avatar site about how they wished they could live in a world as amazing as Pandora (the world of Avatar). I remember this left me a little stunned at the time, since when I watched the film I found that I was constantly comparing the visuals to similar things found in the natural world. After all, James Cameron must have gotten his inspiration from somewhere and what better place than the place in which we all live, Earth. In fact, where else do we base our creative energies? I’ve always loved the natural world, and one part that I find most interesting, and a part many of us miss, is the world of pollinators. This relationship between plant and animal in my opinion is simply miraculous.
Last year I was fortunate enough to purchase my first honeybee hive and soon after a small colony of bees called a nuc (nucleus). This began what seems to be turning into a much more personal relationship than I could have ever imagined, considering I’m reffering to a lively group of thousands of stinging insects. I now have three hives, two that are shared with a friend. These past unseasonably warm days we have been doing spring inspections of the hives and celebrating the strength of one colony and nursing along our weaker “adopted” colonies that we purchased during the winter. To say I like my bees is a gross understatement. There is no doubt that this is love. My emotional attachment to these insects keeps me up at night worrying that they don’t have enough stores, that I made the wrong choice to move some frames in the hive, that I didn’t see much brood (eggs, larvae or pupae)… My impulse to pick up a bee book and become totally engrossed denying myself sleep and food so that I get a little more time to learn about these amazing creatures is a familiar sign that I am hooked.
Just learning about this complex community that lives in my backyard is astounding. Firstly, most of the bees that make up the colony are females, and if you happen to be a male (drone) you don’t do much of anything for the hive. The only drone's job, as far as I know, is to meet a queen bee on her maiden flight and fertilizer her. That's it. Pretty important job, I realize, but really. The females (queen and workers) make sure that things run smoothly and that all is cared for. I guess that is part of the intrigue, that girl power. Without going into much detail about this complex community, I will add that they are great pollinators for my yard and my surrounding neighbors' yards. The relationship that has evolved between animals and plants that help with pollination is quite complex and amazing. Without pollinators it's hard to imagine what we would eat. We sure would miss out on a lot of wonderful food. If you think about the food you eat and the plants they come from, most of what blooms requires pollination from animals. Some plants are dependent on wind and rain for pollination, but largely it’s some type of pollinator.
Recently I was fortunate enough to see the attached TED talk. It's an amazing eight minutes of time that reminds us of what we can discover in our own backyard if we would just allow ourselves to open up our senses and reconnect. I hope you all will take the opportunity to reconnect with your world and get out this spring and find the magic.
He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing