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Bees are full of mystery.

June 23, 2014

We were in meadow after meadow of lupine and golden banner, which also filled the grass beneath aspen groves, and there was no buzz.

I don’t mean a psychic experience. Rather, there was no buzz of bees. It doesn’t seem right that rich meadows producing a rainbow of wildflowers should be silent.

We camped surrounded by abundant blues and yellows and saw two bees like small bumblebees and one buzzing hovercraft of a little bee. One. We have more among our wildflowers at home.

I know bees have been in the news for years, which means trouble has been known much longer, but now I’m moved to find out more. I immediately had the idea that we should all be planting gardens to make bees happy (perhaps a challenge with the town deer population).

But bees have been of local interest, and the library has kept books on beekeeping for years. Yes, beekeeping is different from supporting wild bees, but we could do more of both.

Some examples: “The backyard beekeeper : an absolute beginner’s guide to keeping bees in your yard and garden,” which I shall start with. I see it’s been updated again, and given the rapid change in bee ecology, we will get it.

If you’re interested less in having bees in your yard and more in the science and ecology of their lives, there’s “The Buzz about bees: biology of a superorganism,” by Jurgen Tautz. It was originally published in Germany, comes with many photographs, and is highly recommended.

If you’re interested less with the life of bees and more with life with bees, there are classics by Sue Hubbell—“A Country year” and “A Book of bees: and how to keep them.” Sue managed 300 hives on her farm and nearby properties in the Ozarks (for the rent of one gallon of honey per year).

Completely unrelated to bees, I spotted in the library catalog a new book: “Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees…and Other Conversations We Forgot to Have” by father and son, Bill and Willie Geist, both authors and television hosts. It’s supposed to be very funny.

Also unrelated is “You Can Make the Best Hot Tub Ever: Relax! Warm Your Bones! Get to Know the Sky.” Why does this show up in a catalog search? The author is Becky Bee. The library catalog does a bit of what Amazon and Google do, adding possibly related keyword hits further down the list of results. This is different from library catalogs of the past.

Back to bees, if there’s anything that should be organic, it should be beekeeping: “Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture.” Forty years ago, I worked summers for a tree service company in New Jersey spraying trees against the gypsy moth and tent caterpillars (commonly thought to be the same, but no).

The miracle medicine was Sevin (good for tomatoes, they said; “You could eat this stuff.” You can eat anything; ask Socrates.) An angry lawsuit ensued after the wind caught the drift of spray and laid it upon the neighbor’s hives, killing all the bees. (I wasn’t spraying that day.)

Better living through chemistry has its limits.

Then there’s “The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters.” Most of it falls outside my purview, but it touches on a kind of bee-sting acupuncture, and I happen to know someone who’s done this for years for joint pain and swears by it. (Yes, the bee dies.)

Bees are full of mystery.


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One Comment
  1. Richard Reina permalink

    Jeff, Love the columns. Keep ’em coming!

    Favor: need your mom’s email address. The one I have doesn’t seem to work.

    Thanks, Rick

    Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2014 15:01:21 +0000 To:

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