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How bees change your life

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It is a very difficult thing to describe to someone why you would want to keep hundreds of boxes of thousands of stinging insects. Sometimes it’s hard to understand yourself in this regard. But one of the reasons is how they change you.

One of the things you notice when you get your first package of bees is how scary this proposition actually is. You have this box of 8,000 or so stinging insects and you are about to open the box. You begin to realize how Pandora felt, or at least should have felt just before she opened “that box.” Your brain is telling you that opening this box is a very bad idea. But it is also telling you there is no other way to proceed if you don’t want them to die. So you take a deep breath, and try to stay calm as you dump these bees into your hive.

In a few days you are out there opening the hive and at first you are always afraid they will all try to sting you. But they don’t. How calm they are, though, is directly related to how graceful and calm you are. So the bees began to change how you think, move and breath as you force yourself to slow down. The rhythm of your thoughts, the rhythm of your movements become both deliberate and smooth.

You find that conquering your fears gives you more confidence in everything. Not just bees. Making yourself stay calm when you have a box of stinging insects open is not only exhilarating but mind altering. Slowing your mind and your body makes you more in tune with your mind and body and teaches you to control your fear. It also strengthens your connection to the bees as their rhythm begins to permeate your rhythm.

Then the real test of your ability to stay calm is a day in a dearth or it’s cloudy or some other trigger that they respond to by being aggressive. You can hear the hum kicking up, see bees starting to get excited. Bees start to ping off your veil and you realize you need to close things up and leave. So you force yourself to breath slow and stay calm as you put things back together.

You start watching them more. Even more so if you have an observation hive. The foragers are moving with such deliberate action. The nurse bees seem very intent on their feeding. The house bees sometimes seem just lost and confused, but they blunder around and get things done anyway. You begin to appreciate the complexity of a colony as you observe the different jobs being done and often how well this chaos of bees seems to work towards their goals one little motion at a time.

If you learn this act of being in tune with the bees you see that they neither love you nor do they hate you. They are just busy doing their jobs and living their lives. Getting into the flow of what the bees are doing and what their goals are changes the way you view them and yourself. Getting in cadence with them often causes you to start paying attention to the plants in the surrounding area. You start to see the rhythm of when they bloom and when they quit and when another plant starts. You get in tempo with the seasons, the climate, the flora of the area. You start to notice other kinds of bees. Solitary bees, bumble bees. Your eyes have been opened to so much that has been going on around you your whole life and you never saw it before.

If you are a typical new beekeeper you start out trying to make the bees do what the books say they should be doing or what you just think they should be doing. As you learn and watch and observe, hopefully your thinking changes. You start to realize that the bees don’t read the books. Hopefully you stop thinking in terms of the bees “doing the right thing” or “doing the wrong thing” but start to see that the bees are almost always doing the “right thing”. What you need to do is help them with that. When you start thinking like that, you are becoming a real beekeeper.

Michael Bush

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Copyright 2016 by Michael Bush

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