For the last few weeks we've been spending happy hours cleaning and flaming old bee boxes and assembling extra frames of foundation for our Hives. There are two of them, 'Wild Hive' and 'The Hive of Transition'.
The last year has seen me working harder than ever before whilst distracted by illness (not mine but one beloved and close) and also made timid around the bees by discovering that I am in fact allergic to bee sting. I now have to carry two epi-pens with me everywhere. I have not been a good bee-keeper and I have been full of grief, berating myself instead of acting and dithering uncertainly on the edge of multiples of possibilities about what it might all 'mean'. I am initiate of The Path of Pollen, an ancient form of Shamanism that has at it's heart the Honey Bee and The Hive. How can I be allergic to bee sting?
It was late in the year for these activities - they would have been better done in early spring. In every moment is the opportunity for being totally here, totally alive to the moment - this is the only place where anything is truly happening. So I let go of all the beratings and inner torment and instead stepped forward into "what is needed now?" I met the milk of kindness to humans within the hive; there is nothing to fear, there is only love, get on with the work.
To some extent I have been spectator more than participant - Fergus being the one who opens the hives - but placing my attention exactly where it should be (at a moment before the moment that is 'too late') has been balm to my grief. The Hive of Transition has a new queen (it was briefly queenless and full of drones - not good), she is mated and happily laying comb after comb of healthy brood. Wild Hive has all the space it needs to make more precious, nourishing, honey. The workers pour in and out of both in golden lines of busyness bringing pollen and nectar for their common good.
Apis Mellifera is a generous Mistress and both hives are now thriving.
If you love Bees, or indeed if you just love exceptional writing, I encourage you to read 'The Bees' by Laline Paull. It's an extraordinary book and reading it is quite possibly one of the most accessible ways I can think of to understanding some of the practicalities of what goes on inside a hive. I've made it sound dry - and it is anything but that.
If you are curious about The Path of Pollen read 'The Shamanic Way Of The Bee' by Simon Buxton. It has much to teach you, carefully hidden in eloquent prose and a beautiful story.