So my beehives arrived today - not the bees themselves, the boxes that the bees will go in. Well, not the boxes either exactly, but the pieces of wood that my husband and I will assemble that will make the boxes that the bees will live in.
I didn't realize when I first committed to keeping bees that it would involve the same skills needed to assemble model airplanes, but there it is. The bees are worth it.
I became interested in bees when I learned about "colony collapse disorder" which since 2006 has ravaged the global bee population. In 2006 the bee population dropped by some 30-40%, and in the years since the syndrome has persisted. Given that 1/3 of all food depends on bee pollination, this is a big deal. The PBS program "NOVA" did a great overview of this phenomenon. The jury is still out on why this is happening, but one of several potential culprits to emerge has been pesticides.
I am not getting bees for food production, although I would be very happy if my garden produced more due to their presence. Nor even for the honey, although that certainly would be nice. I am in it for the bees.
Bees are extraordinary creatures, living in a highly specialized, exquisitely sensitive, matriarchal society. They communicate among themselves both by "dancing" to indicate where food is, and by chemical exchanges through pheromones and feeding one another. Since I work on environmental issues and chemicals as they affect human health, bees take on a richly symbolic and very real role in this light.
I lived for a year in Russia. While there my husband and I bought our food at the local farmers' market. There was a woman there who sold honey, and she had so many shades of honey - from white to amber to mahogany. Each color had a name. It makes me sad to think of the richness of this world we borrow being diminished. Keeping bees is my small way of contributing.
And the honey would be nice.
From Our Family To Yours
1 week ago