I was excited and a little anxious about my first bee class. The bees chose me awhile ago, and I feel like I’m catching up to their decision. A whole afternoon devoted to a class about bees seemed like a long time, but it turned out bees are just plain fascinating!
Richard and Jenny are the perfect yin and yang of the bee keeper and the bee guardian. Like the queen producing eggs, Richard is producing honey, and like the drone, who’s only job is to fertilize a queen, Jenny’s cause is to perpetuate the species. And we, the students, are like the worker bees, busy learning our new craft.
To learn that 50% of the Big Island’s bee population was lost in 2010 is heartbreaking. So a new breed of bee keeper emerges. 50% of the class is more interested in pollination than honey. To me, the bees are saying, take care of me, I’ll pollinate, AND I’ll share my honey with you. How can I say no?
At the end of the day, awkwardly dressed in our new hats and veils, as Richard opened the hive, there was a perfect peace. The bees were calm. We were calm. No one seemed to want to leave. As Richard put the top back on, closing up the hive, the spell was broken, but I drove home thinking about the bees.
Written by Mary Ann Smiles
This project was funded by a grant from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.