Thursday, July 01, 2010

"Find A Bee And Foller Him Home"

Ivan Kramskoy. Bee-Keeper. 1872

Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.


There is no coming to consciousness without pain.

---Carl Gustav Jung

Pain in the legs is the taste of Zen.

---Yamada Roshi

About 65 years Walt Disney put to live action and animation a film depicting Uncle Remus and the Joel Chandler Harris Brer Rabbit stories. It was called Song of the South and was withdrawn by Disney because of protests in the 1960s over the Remus character and the way the script had him talking. I understand the problem, but regret terribly the loss of easy access to the film and the wondrous animation in it. A friend of mine smuggled a VCR copy of it in from Canada a little while ago, and so I got to see it again.

The quotation in my title is advice Uncle Remus gave to a little boy who was trying to find some honey. Well, the advice worked...but you can imagine the difficulty of doing such a thing. This past full moon is called the Mead Moon in Europe because I guess beekeepers use the light of the moon to collect spring honey easily while the bees are asleep---or whatever state they're in at night. Then the people make mead to celebrate the quiet, lazy summer afternoons. Maybe something involved in all that is why our bees came back.

It's hard to believe 6 years ago this month I wrote an essay describing the sad destruction of a honeybee colony in the wall of our house. Attacked by creatures known as wax moths, our bees slowly were decimated as we watched helplessly. When the bees had arrived---in a swarm that produced one of the most unforgettable natural events in the lives of my family---we had been warned by friends that we needed to smoke 'em or tear the wall out to get rid of them. They gave us visions of a whole wall soaked in leaking honey. But a bee guy told us such a catastrophe was highly unlikely because they're too smart to make that much more than what they need. And indeed after the colony was killed, the remaining honey dripped from a single spot in a windowsill which I captured easily in a dish.

So we had lived with them for a few years, our daughter being raised to the constant, faint buzzing hum of a queen and her colony in the wall next to Ilona's bed. Beware, gentleman callers! Who knows what that did to her...but she seems to enjoy success in her studies. We all grieved the loss of the hive.

So imagine how dumbfounded I was a couple days ago, the morning after the moon had become full, to walk into her room and hear that hum again. We had observed no swarm this time...and it must just have stopped raining heavily. Maybe a beekeeper nearby had taken honey, and some of the hive had decided Enough is enough! I don't know and am not going to advertise, other than this posting...but they're here and must know there was a hive here before. The remains of the battle must still be in the wall. But this is where they want to be, so it must be a very special, select site and here we go again.

You notice I'm using words like "smart," "decide," and "thinking" to describe what many people talk about as just bugs. Over the last couple years, science has investigated more thoroughly the process by which bees select a new site for a colony and I find it all fascinating. Last week Psychology Today produced a column comparing the process to how we humans make decisions. Of course it's all simplified here but it might get you interested. I guess they know what they're doing. Anyway, welcome back...and we have a whole garden awaiting pollination!


Liberality said...

Wow! Are they still there? We have bees come to the hummingbird feeders which we don't really like because they try to scare the birds away. But I like bees, they are truly needed and a wonder.

jazzolog said...

Yes they are. Possibly it's a small, tentative hive...but they are hard at work.

I stopped with hummingbird feeders a couple of years ago, but at that time I found yellow jackets trying to drink the sugar water. Yes, they were bothersome and the hornets seemed aggressive when a hummingbird came round.

I read that sugar is not what a hummingbird needs, since its metabolic rate already is sky high. I think the commerical mixtures immitate better real flower nectar, but expensive.

Liberality said...

My husband is the one who does the hummingbird feeders. He has 4 of the feeders out around the property and the birds are always sucking down the sugar water. He gets aggravated by the bees but he doesn't kill them. I just hope I never get stung by them since I seem to be getting allergic to them. Got stung in 2001 and I ended up going to the emergency room. It wasn't that I was swelling up so much but that it hurt so bad and wasn't letting up. I figured WTF? Sure it stings but then the sting fades away right? But this sting wasn't and it seemed to be getting worse rather than better. Anyway they gave me a mega-dose of benadryl and sent me on home. haven't been stung since.