The Beekeeper’s Lament

Posted on February 1, 2012

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I’m reading the book by Hannah Nordhaus, which is something of a biography of a not-so-famous beekeeper who just happens to be one of the largest (not him, his business) in the industry, with tens of thousands of hives.

Despite the fact that honeybees are called European bees, it took me longer than it should have to figure out that they weren’t at all native to the U.S., but were brought over with all of the non-native crops. As much as I’m for native foliage and native food and taking out invasive species, there are a large number of plants and crops that I have a hard time thinking of as invasive when they aren’t monocultured on a massive scale.

Beekeeping is fascinating in and of itself, but especially with how it relates to the things we grow and the fact that John Miller, the beekeeper of interest in the book relates it to a constant exposure to death (thousands of bees die daily under his care) and a large scale small creature mortician.

The second Thursday of each month the Tampa Bay Beekeeper’s Association meets and I’m planning to go to their meeting in hopes that I might found out more information and if this is a pursuit worth chasing after, if not for the honey, for the sake of our ever-growing garden. I have a long history of being attacked by things that sting, not the least of which was the most traumatic event at age 5 or so by a nest of ground bees in Germany which was a mass of welts all over (though for future reference, raw onion placed on stings cuts the burn a bit – tip learned from the elderly Germany ladies who patched me up way back when). I also need to figure out if a poll from out neighbors might be necessary or if this is something doable with minimal disturbances to the neighbors…and I guess their pets, too (though most of the dogs in the neighborhood are more than obnoxious and could do for a few stings on the nose to show them they aren’t all big and bad and in charge of the place)…

I’ll keep you posted, as I hope to not only go to the meeting, but accompany some of the keepers to the apiary this Saturday to watch/help them work.

One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

-Emily Dickinson

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