Bee Relaxed


Nervousness transfers directly to honeybees. They’ll sense your nervousness, get nervous themselves, and that’s how you get stung. Teaching their keeper to be calm may be the best lesson the bees can offer. They are sticklers for consistency and quick to correct wandering nerves. You learn fast. As a result, beekeepers are always even tempered. They possess a self-taught, nature-enforced peace. I’ve been keeping bees for over 15 years, and haven’t been stung in 10. So it was odd to have a churning feeling in the pit of my stomach as I walked toward my hive for the first time this year. I was scared. Not scared of being stung, but of what I might (or might not) find.

Honeybees have been disappearing worldwide. An environmental warning sign, perhaps. It’s been in the news for months, but no one is quite sure why or where the bees are going. Barry Estabrook has a theory: “They’re tired of being ripped off by people!” That could be. Beekeepers in the U.S. collected 154.8 million pounds of mellifluous gold in 2006. That sounds like a lot, but it’s 11 percent less than the year before. Maybe the bees are all moving to the great bee retirement hive in the sky, a move that would cause bigger problems then missing out on a sweeter cup of tea. Cornell University assigns a direct dollar value of honeybee pollination between 8 and 12 billion dollars. If farmers had to pollinate their own crops without the help of the bees (if that would even be possible), we could all expect to pay a lot more for our food. But I must treat my hive well, because there’s good news from the Knauer farm. My bees are present, accounted for, and very busy—they’ve managed to pollinate just about every flower they could find in a five mile radius. It seems, for now, we’ll have honey again this fall.

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