The sun has finally come out here; three or four days of gloomy weather is all we tolerate in the Deep South. Anyway, amongst and between the raindrops last week, I got my honey bees! I know my learning curve will be tremendous and I will get stung, both figuratively and literally. I also expect to lose a hive or two along the rocky path of this “curve” but, I’m in for the long haul. The hive sits in Elizabeth’s old Butterfly Garden, the one her four brothers made for her when she was 6 – that, in its self, makes me feel this new endeavor is bound to succeed – great Karma there amongst the wonderful memory from long ago. Anyway, I hope they are happy there amongst the four o’clocks from my mother’s yard and the hundreds of zinnias I planted along the fence.
Their neighbors are three of my hens and one possessive rooster…barnyard dynamics I will enjoy watching. Anyway, just wanted to post this as a prelude to my beekeeping effort.
And so spring begins…at least, here, where I live. I cut grass the other day – I felt bad about the dandelions. I only cut a few, those nearest the house, dandelions and clover. I left 5 acres of them and other wildflowers for the bees and the baby dragon flies and the lady bugs and all that is needed to make this space complete. I am anxious for the beekeeper to come during the night and leave 100 hives near the canal at the end of the woods. I feel satisfied that I have been a good steward and have left enough wildflowers for them. They hold me captive, these spirited workers who do so much for us – little creatures we have mostly taken for granted and many times killed are so rudimentary and essential. Anyway, I cannot wait for their return stay.
It is in the very early morning when the dew defines the eccentrics of the cobwebs, before they are disturbed, before the day has moved in and taken them when I most enjoy the bees. There are hundreds of them streaming through the woods and hovering over the field doing what bees do and have done for ever. I see them through the rays of morning light, so essential, busy doing their jobs. Their journey is arduous – going through woods and baring themselves over open fields amongst predators and problems, but most survive and find their way home at the end of the day, safe and snuggled in their hives once again with little bodies full of honey and wax, a hard day’s work behind them.
This flight home each evening right before sunset when the hens roost and the tree frogs call is beautiful and symphonic. Again, the rays of the sun are part of this splendor, this time picking up specks of the day and becoming a mixture with the little bees tired from a day of gathering. It is so soothing and peaceful to watch. I am enchanted with their predictable pattern of flight and the way they do it with unchanging motions, every day no matter what. I suppose I envy them in a very odd sort of way, they go through their day, each day, knowing they have a very important job to do and it is done and at the end of the day, they are home, tired, happy and fulfilled.
Anyway, this is my simple explanation of my fascination with bees. I am anxiously awaiting their return sometimes in April and I will mourn their departure sometimes in July, but they will leave behind quarts of honey and fields of flowers.
They showed up yesterday, the bees. I was waiting for them and yesterday while cutting grass near the woods, I saw them, 96 wooden boxes stacked neatly near the canal – home.
I knew then the beekeepers had come the night before dressed in beekeeper suits and a truck with a hoist. They had come during the late hours traveling from the Atchafalaya Basin I suspect while the bees were asleep and calm; they come here in spring for the Tallow trees and stay till summer. I never know ahead of time when they will come – there are no loud noises, no pomp, only bees buzzing through the woods the next day. It’s a simple thing I suppose, these hundreds of bees making honey while pollinating our food supply but it is so important that it is essential.I have left the clovers hoping to give them more nectar for I hear their population is dwindling. Not hard to believe – there are people who see a pasture and never consider the bees or the wildlife that lives there – they think “progress”.
Anyway, the bees are back for another spring and in summer, I will have honey. As I said, they came quietly, just slipped in through the backdoor, fulfilling their purpose.
It seems the weather is hinting at Spring here and while I wish for a deep freeze to kill the mosquitos, I do love the way the sunshine feels. In response to this mild weather, I decided to move around some Louisiana Irises. These densely packed rhizomes will soon hide the ugly spot in my backyard with their perennial green vertical beauty and brief show of yellow flowers in spring. While digging in the dirt, my hens kept me company – they knew what was just below the surface of that undisturbed soil – worm treats!
I also spotted a tiny ladybug sitting there doing what lagybugs do so well. All of this bucolic reference made me think of the bees that would soon be back – I am blessed with a nomadic beekeeper that delivers about 100 hives to my property in very early spring and then moves them in summer.They sit at the edge of the woods near a small canal and fly through the woods everyday that they are here. They not only give me honey, they give me tranquility. The irises, the hens, the ladybug, and the bees…life is good.
Today was warm here, not very Christmassy but kind of nice to go outside and find some December gifts. There is nothing as beautiful as nature, there is nothing in a store to buy that comes near that beauty.
I am ending the day with a hot cup of organic coffee and a teaspoon of honey from my bees of summer – I can’t express how wonderful this moment is to me. I decided to cap it off with a blog post just to make it memorable. Unfortunately, however, I‘ve not much to say. I am waiting on a cold front to arrive early tomorrow and cause the Christmas spirit to stir – at least I hope so, for it is not here. I draw on childhood memories to help get me there. I have so many and so many different focuses.
The ones about Miss Sue are so pure and deep. They are connected to nature; they are about cutting cedar trees in the woods, trees with bird’s nests and moss in them, and getting sticky sap on your carcoat and gathering giant pinecones from a place near the bayou and bringing them home to just be. They are about giving her a gift of homemade food and a late December visit by the fire. Those memories stir me, those memories made me. She was untouched by the commercialism of Christmas.
Another memory is about my dad and the colossal effort he made one year to put together a huge wreath made from cedar boughs from the woods – this thing was engineered and I’m sure, the source of much stress – for him. I don’t know why he did it – but I remember it.
I remember my mother too, of course I remember her – the manifestation of Christmas for me – the giver, the miracle worker, the one who created the magic; she defined it for me.
Of all the things about Christmases past, most are not about things.
Those people are gone now and so are the Christmases of childhood but, as is evident with this post, their spirits remain a constant in my life.
I don’t have the tree up and I have not been shopping, instead, I wait patiently for the arrival of the Christmas spirit.
I gathered these gifts from the December yard today – citrus from the trees, camellias to put in vases that were a birthday present from a dear friend and narcissus bulbs dug up in my yard at Thanksgiving to be forced bloomed for Christmas.
Christmas is the day that holds all time together.
Ahhh Saturday morning. The rain, not the alarm clock, woke me up this morning. This will be one of the early spring rains that nudge the already fat and swollen buds into bloom. Already the garden is so sweet smelling from the plum blossoms and the clover flowers. I hope there are bounties of bees this spring – I am not cutting some of my clover patches, just for them.
|collecting honey last july
The beekeepers will come in April and I hope there will be bees. Speaking of the bees, I shopped for a few vegetable garden supplies yesterday and was excited to see the notable presence of organic fertilizers and pesticides; I stocked up. I just wish people would lay off some of the poison.
” The more we pour the big machines, the fuel, the pesticides, the herbicides, the fertilizer and chemicals into farming, the more we knock out the mechanism that made it all work in the first place.”
David R. Brower
Well, yesterday has been accomplished – I painted and I went to lunch with my twins – both enterprises were very satisfying and enjoyable. Having 5 children is a bit complicated and I try to capture a few moments away from the group theme and yesterday was one of those times.
this is where Matt, Drew, and I had lunch
this is the painting from yesterday
About the bees; they are gone now. The bee keeper came Thursday and extracted more honey (and gave me a sample quart!) and told me they would be here Friday evening (last night) to move the hives to Arnaudville. It seems the sugarcane is not a good thing for them and they will burrow in the dirt if he leaves then here. They will return in the spring. I will miss them so. I spent a part of each day walking through the field to get to them and just watched them and listened to their onomatopoeia and was totally fascinated by their busyness, then I would sneak past them and come home through the woods – it was such a pleasant excursion and kept me so close to nature. Anyway, til next spring…it is beyond any words I can transfer from this keyboard – eating honey from my yard and peeping into “the secret life of” beekeepers – simple pleasures are the best, hands down.
and these are the bee keepers
painting today and a lunch adventure with my twins – I hope to post this evening because
I have “bee” news!
p.s. love the d h lawrence quote today!!!!
I am putting together my pantry, my medicine cabinet. I have turned a rather big plot of land into an orchard and a vegetable garden. The fruit trees are young, some are just planted and the garden soil needs some amending but over time, it should all be very productive and should keep me healthy. It makes me so happy to see it grow and to plan for each season. A garden benefits you two ways – the exercise you get from working in it and of course, the produce it produces. Anyway, once again, I am motivated to plant a garden. I continue to have high expectations there amongst the honey bees and clover.
“I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green”.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse
flowers from elizabeth