In the space between alfalfa fields, my dad kept a couple of bee hives. I remember putting on a beekeeper’s mask and standing well back, watching him smoke the hive to lull the bees into a quiet. I remember cautiously lifting the lid of the hive, my father close at hand, and peering at the world inside. I remember my dad pulling out frames and cutting away the honey comb. He’d slice the comb into small squares and put the honey—still on the comb—into Mason jars. “You have to leave some for the bees, to get them through the winter,” my dad would say, refitting the lid back onto the hive.
My dad, too, had on his shelf a book called The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture by A.I. Root. I remember running my hand across its dark nubby cover. I remember reading that book and promising myself that one day, I, too, would keep bees.
My husband and I took a walk last night. We passed several signs warning walkers about pesticides on the lawn. We passed great piles of leaves which would be pushed into piles by gasoline-powered blowers and picked up by lawn workers the following day. We passed a home whose owners were draining their pool into the street. Chlorinated water streamed down the road until it found its way to a drain.
I saw an ad for cheap used beekeeping equipment today. I wrote to the seller. Maybe now was the time.
And it’s a perfect time to keep bees: In great numbers, entire colonies of bees are simply disappearing, and no one knows why. As we lose our bees, we lose our pollinators and, as we lose our pollinators, we lose many of our crops.
I heard back from the seller. Someone had already spoken for the equipment. I wasn’t too upset. Because I knew, had I asked the powers that be—the board in our development that regulates door color and mailbox height and fencing choices—I would be denied.
They would tell me I can’t keep bees.
They would tell me it’s not safe.
Labels: Community, Consumption, Country life