Kalen left for work after lunch and I watched out the window for a few more minutes, thinking about how the bees were a much more compelling blog topic than the New Year roundup I had planned. I knew I would never get any good pictures from my living room, though, between Pippin’s nose art on the windows and the debris across the street; it was hopeless. Besides, I didn’t want to post a picture of the apiarist without explicit permission; that’s just poor manners. And the bolder part of my brain shouted, “Carpe apem!” and told the timid part of my brain to quit waffling and put on some shoes already!
Really it went more like this:
Bold Holly: Carpe Apem!
Timid Holly: “Seize the bee?” That’s terrible advice! We’ll get stung, and the bee will die. Don’t you remember how effective it was this summer to just move slowly through the swarm?
Bold Holly: Not literally, you twit! Put on some shoes and get over there!
Timid Holly: What, toward the murder street? On someone else’s property? And talk to a stranger? Get out of here!
Bold Holly: Yes! Let’s get out of here! If we don’t go now, we’ll miss our chance! Don’t you want one last bee picture? Maybe see the hive? Ask where they’re going and see if you can buy some honey? Local honey is the best, and it’s not gonna get any more local than the bees we fed on our back porch all summer!
And while Timid Holly was distracted with the argument, Bold Holly took control and I found myself walking across the street, waving and asking a stranger, “Hello! Would you mind if I take some pictures of the bees?”
Earlier that morning, I had heard a crash outside, which is unusual enough that I went to look out the window, but not so unusual that I was particularly concerned. We frequently have people speeding down our street and fender-benders are pretty common. The neighbors also like to toss around the various piles of junk they bring home and that makes various clatters and clangs. And there are several large construction sites within a few blocks that also produce a few of the frequent bangs. I was mildly surprised (and slightly disappointed, if I’m being honest) to find that the vacant lot across the street was beginning construction by demolishing some trees, but I knew it would be happening eventually and I went back to making lunch. (Just to clarify, I wasn’t disappointed that it wasn’t an accident. Just disappointed to see the trees replaced with a small, cheaply-built and inevitably unkempt house).
After we had eaten and Kalen prepared to go back to work, we looked out the window again and that was when we noticed that there was someone on the lot bent over inspecting one of the fallen trees. They didn’t look like one of the construction workers. They had a wide brimmed hat and they were just standing there with their hands on their knees. We watched the person watching something else and when they stood up so many things fell into place.
It wasn’t a gardening hat they were wearing, it was a beekeeping suit. The large tree had housed a hive of bees and the crew (presumably after soiling their pants and saying a few choice expletives) called a beekeeper to relocate the colony, which also explained why the engine noises had stopped. The waves of understanding continued to crash over us as we realized that they were probably our bees, the ones we had fed and watered through the summer. We had never figured out where their hive was, but we had seen them coming from the west every morning and returning that same direction each evening, so we knew it must be that direction. I never imagined that it was just the tree across the street.
Based on the number of insect pictures I’ve posted on my blog, it may surprise you to learn that I’ve never really been a big fan of bugs, but for the most part they don’t send me running and screaming, and with time I’ve come to like and appreciate more and more of them, especially bees.
The beekeeper waved me over with a smile and I explained that I had seen him from across the street and was curious. At some point I noticed that there was still a construction worker around as well, sitting in the enclosed cab of a small track hoe, and while I couldn’t see his face, I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought I was crazy (Timid Holly agreed from the back of my mind). But I moved slowly through the swarm and told the beekeeper how I had fed the bees this past summer and enjoyed watching them. He continued looking for the queen while I took a few pictures of the now-exposed honeycomb and the bees flying lazily about. He said he has several stands of bees and sells under the name Hive2Honey. As Bold Holly had argued to Timid Holly, I am always trying to find local honey to help combat allergies, and I thanked him for taking care of the bees and promised to buy some honey in the near future.
While I was out there, I felt a couple bees land in my hair and resisted the instinct to brush them away. Others landed on my hands and my bare ankles. Several of them were supremely interested in my hot pink shoelaces. I can’t quite explain the dual thrill and compliment of having so many bees on and around you but not getting stung. Logically I know they were just looking for food sources, and I didn’t make any threatening movements, but a small ridiculous part of me feels like they remembered me and were greeting me. I’m going to miss them, but I’m glad they’re going to be cared for, and I’m glad I got to say goodbye to them.