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The Lightness of Bee-ing

It's hard to believe that we're moving into our third year of beekeeping. This complicated, rewarding, vexing venture is another challenge for us. We feel it's important to do our part to help the declining bee populations by providing chemical-free forage. (I wish my neighbors would do the same....).

In turn, we benefit from the pollination and the added bonus of delicious honey. Thankfully, with the help of the Lewis County Beekeeping Association folks, we have mentors around us to offer guidance when we have questions. Eventhough, as the saying goes- put 3 beekeepers in a room and ask them a question- you get 5 answers.

So, it's another bit of a gamble.....woodenware, bees, supplies, time.....all an investment.

Like many other beekeepers, we experienced loss of our hives this past year. All six of them. Moisture, queen failure, weakened by varroa mites? (we found only a few in one hive), freezing temperatures.....or all of the above? We can speculate all day- but the truth is we lost all six of our hives. So- crossroads again- do we take a break or do we re-up? Roll those dice!

We did decide to start our girls off in the orchard this year. This will allow us time to build a shelter in our original beeyard this summer in order to protect them from the elements when the rainy season comes. With the purchase of another beesuit, The Seedpod Kids were able to help Farmer Adam with the installation this year.

The kids are fearless- and so tender. Each was so very pleased to be working alongside their dad. I'm happy to take the pictures incidentally- with my epipen in hand. Argh.

We'll button the girls up for winter in the orchard and then move them to their new home near the pond. For now, we get to observe them daily.

When we took the beekeeping course as a family, the mentors often remarked about how lovely it was to pull up a lawnchair near their apiary, sip iced tea and watch the bees work. Since we had them in the pasture the last few years, the only time I saw them was as I was whizzing by on the riding lawnmower praying I didn't look like a bear. Apparently, I've developed an allergy in my later years. A bummer for sure as I actually looked forward to caring for the bees alongside Adam. But, after getting stung while mowing and my leg dramatically swelling up, these interesting little creatures provoke a bit more anxiety in me than they used to. I couldn't imagine sitting down and relaxing with them. I didn't get it- but having them closer- and moving the chair back a little bit- I'm happy to say that I get the attraction.

Each hive is a complicated system. You get to see a glimpse of how they operate- taking turns, working hard- focusing on the task at hand- working for the whole- patience- purpose- peace in community.

There is much to learn from bees.

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