Monday, July 11, 2011

Jennifer Tyler: The Beginner Beekeeper, Part Four

To read previous entries in this series, click here.

Life literally flies by in the beeyard. Those ten thousand workers I brought home 6 weeks ago are long perished, having fulfilled their duties and worn their wings right out. Not all of the casualties are natural: the times when I have grimaced at the sound and feel of an exoskeleton being crushed by the weight of the telescoping cover are too many to count, even as careful as I am.
“Life begets life. Energy creates energy.
It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”
— Sarah Bernhardt
The original ten thousand or so bees industriously built out comb to store nectar and raise brood in nearly 20 frames, nursed and raised their younger siblings, and cared for the hive and — most importantly — their queen. They completed their biological imperative and silently died, leaving the future of the colony to the wings of the sisters they raised and all the workers to come.
Oh, and there are now so many! There has been a population explosion, with at least twice as many individuals now as before.
Each colony is its own unique mega-organism.
I feel connected to these bees and am fascinated by the gestalt that is each colony. I see each colony as a lively, unique mega-organism. Whether before or after work, visiting the hives is the best thing I’ll do all day. Before I actually had bees in boxes, I imagined that I would be sometimes nervous with all the bees flying around me while I worked, but actually, I am never nervous or anxious with them. Few activities have ever been so relaxing for me as this.
I go out to the hives a few times a week, though it’s been really rainy this month, so I haven’t been out as often as I’d like. A week after installation I started seeing comb rising from the foundation on two of the middle frames. Honestly, I nearly cried when I saw the comb for the first time: it just seemed so miraculous and awesome that these insects were creating something so delicate and perfect right before my eyes. A few days after that, several frames were being worked on, and I saw the first round of brood — bee larvae. The queen is doing her job, and all is well.
Seeing the comb for the first time
Ten or so days later, on a quick visit before work, I had the chance to see something I’ve been looking forward to since bee school. Newly hatched “baby bees” emerged from their capped cells right before my eyes! It started with an eye and antennae poking through the cap, and I held that frame so still and just watched until the fresh bee was walking around the frame. I couldn’t believe my lucky timing, really, to catch such a climactic and moving scene.
A baby bee emerges . . .
And scuttles about . . .

. . . and joins its friends.
It was about this time, after being stung on the pinky finger for being foolish and taking my gloves off for picture taking, that I really noticed the population explosion.
I have a bee-loud glade of my own.

1 comment:

Melanie Jolicoeur said...

After seeing these baby bees emerge I'm really wishing I had my own hives! Next year I hope.