Our First Bees!
We've recently brought home our first colony of bees. I've been awaiting this day with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Now, I've always connected very well with animals and enjoy spending time with them: dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, birds, even rats and snakes; animals much more charismatic and relatable to us humans than, say, a colony of 10,000 stinging insects. Not that I'm a squeamish person, but typically, I put insects in the "tolerate" to "avoid" category. I find insects to have an inscrutable, alien-like, and, well, rather repellent nature. They are both fascinating and kinda gross, and while I respect their adaptability and resilience, and the critical roles they play in ecosystems, I've never felt any sort of emotional connection to them. My appreciation for insects is largely clinical. But honeybees are something else: they are the only insect that has been domesticated and they have been embedded in human culture for millennia - bees exist in our language, our mythologies, our dreams, our psyches. Despite my reservations, I think the experience of developing a working relationship with tens of thousands of bees would be pretty frickin' incredible.
And so we got our bees. And I fussed and fretted over our lack of knowledge and experience - I hate to do wrong by any creature in my charge and the prospect of harming any animal through my own ignorance is damning. And, of course, we did make some mistakes - the learning curve is rather steep. Beekeeping knowledge seems best gleaned from the ancient concept of apprenticeship, where you learn from doing under the auspices of an inveterate old master, the sort who has forgotten more about the subject than you will ever know in your lifetime. Beekeeping probably isn't best learned though books and YouTube videos. But you make do with what you can.
Fortunately, our mistakes heretofore have been minor and easily correctable without inflicting too much collateral damage. Our first colony seems to be thriving in spite of us. And I have discovered a profound (though not without some tension) enjoyment of observing them. I really like stepping out of my human trappings and being immersed in their world.