Just Bee Cuzzzzzzz

When I was about nine, one of the neighbouring farmers gave over part of his empty field to a beekeeper.  One morning I was surprised to see stacks of wooden boxes in the neighbour’s field.

hives

I didn’t know what they were, but my father kindly explained to me that they were beehives and that the bees would help make our trees bear better and more fruit and that, at the same time, the bees would make honey over there in those wooden hives and that probably the beekeeper would let us have some of it. Seeing the astonished look on my face, my wise father then added that I should stay the hell away from the hives because there were thousands of bees over there who would sting me to death.

Since I spent most of the summer barefoot, I’d had more than a few bee-stings in my life, and knew they hurt  a lot and could imagine that thousands of them probably would kill me. So I stayed the hell away from the hives, but I spent a lot of time watching them from afar. If I went into the attic, I had a good view of the whole set-up from the little octagonal window at the front of the house.

Nothing much ever happened over there, however. I asked my dad how come nothing ever  happened over there at the bee hives and he said the bees were out all day busy at work in the orchards and the beekeeper probably only came at night to tend to them.

So I snuck up to the attic at night a few times when I could remember to stay awake long enough. And then one day I saw him – the beekeeper. He had a strange hat on with what I know now to be a net over his face, but what just seemed like a dark mask at the time. He had a lot of contraptions and he made smoke and he moved really, really slowly. The whole thing was eerie and deliciously mysterious– especially to a little kid like me who spent way too much time alone lost in her own head.

beekeeper

The next time we had a composition assignment at school, I wrote about the beekeeper except that I embellished the story a bit. The bees were the backdrop, but I made the story about witnessing a large, dark man fighting with another large dark man and then killing him and burying the body in the field next to the bee hives.

My teacher called the police. She and the police came to the house.

This was the second time the police had been to the house because of me. The first time was when I was 6 and was riding my bike on the nice smooth road instead of on the gravelly shoulder like I was supposed to.

Anyway, the teacher showed my composition to my parents and said the assignment was to write something about our every day life (I must have missed that detail). My parents apologized to everyone and explained that I was nuts and dragged me downstairs to tell everyone exactly what the heck I was thinking.

I tried to explain about the mysterious beekeeper in the night, but then I got heck for sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night and then the police and the teacher figured they had better things to do  with their evening and left.

I got some more heck and got sent to my room to re-write my composition.

The upshot of this whole post is that I like bees. (Fellow blogger, Robin, has taken some amazing photos of bees) Bees are becoming extinct because of genetically modified seeds and over-use of pesticides. Without bees our crops won’t grow. And without crops, people won’t have much to eat and we’ll have to resort to cannibalism.

Also, I love honey. Aside from maple syrup, honey is the only sweetener I keep in the house. There are so many varieties of honey that it’s worth a whole post on its own.

Once upon a time they made wine out of honey —mead. It was really, really sweet. I had some once during a party our Anglo Saxon literature teacher threw for us, so I guess you can still buy it now. I haven’t rushed out to do so.

One day, when I retire I’d like to keep a few beehives maybe.  (I’d also like some goats, but that’s a whole other story.) Meantime, here are some interesting superstitions about bees to prove that I’m not the only one who thinks bees are mysterious.

  • It is bad luck to give away a hive; the bees must be sold for a fair price commensurate with their worth.
  • Beehives should never be moved from one place to another without the bees being told beforehand.
  • If your bees suddenly become lazy it is said that there will be a disaster shortly.
  • If bees suddenly swarm on a bush or tree there will be a death nearby.
  • If a bee flies into the house it is a sign of great good luck, or of the arrival of a stranger; however, the luck will only hold if the bee is allowed to either stay or to fly out of the house of its own accord.
  • It is unlucky to kill a bee.
  • A bee landing on someone’s hand is believed to foretell money to come.
  • If a bee lands on someone’s head it means that person will rise to greatness.
  • It is a sure sign of a girl’s virginity if she can walk through a swarm of bees without being stung.
  • There is believed to be a very strong link between bees and their keepers; bees cannot prosper in an atmosphere of anger or hatred, and will either pine away and die, or fly away.
  • There is still a common belief that bees should be told about deaths that occur in the beekeeper’s family; in past times this was extended to include every birth, marriage or other notable event in the life of the family. It was especially important to inform the bees of the death of their owner; traditionally this was done by the eldest son or widow of the owner, who would strike each hive three times with the door key and say ‘The master is dead!’. If the procedure was not followed, the bees would die or fly away. In many districts the hives were put into mourning by having black crepe draped around them, and at the funeral feast sugar or small amounts of the food eaten by the mourners were brought out for the bees.

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Tomorrow is the event all of Ottawa has been waiting for: the first ever annual Blog Out Loud!!! Raw Sugar Cafe at Somerset & Cambridge. 7:00 pm. All your favourite Ottawa Bloggers will be there. Will you?

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43 responses to “Just Bee Cuzzzzzzz

  1. I love bees, they’re so beautiful, and though I don’t eat much honey – blueberry flower honey is amazing.

    And speaking of, we got a great recipe for guacamole at a French restaurant in Indonesia (yeah, I know). You make your guacamole – make sure it’s a bit spicy by adding tabasco or whatever – and stir in a spoonful of honey. Heavenly!

    @ Bandobras – Eric the half bee! I haven’t thought of him in forever!

  2. I’m a bee fan myself. I went to a gathering the other night and someone there was talking about having to tell the bees her mother had died. Such a rich history with bees we have!

    Kate Church is an artist in Nova Scotia who sculpts and sews bees…you can see her work here.

  3. that link for some reason only takes you to her site. You can google Kate Church Wannabees and that will take you to the bees.

  4. You make me laugh. “We thank YOU, Mr. Agnew.”

    When I was mentally preparing for the disaster that would be Y2K (I didn’t have the money to really prepare), I thought I would keep sheep because you could milk them and use their fleece and you would only eat them if they died a natural death. Plus they are smaller than cows and so easier to handle. But I think goats are also a good choice and you could get some like angora or cashmere and shave them and knit their hair. So my farm would have probably looked a lot like yours, with the bees (or just maple trees), some small ungulates for milk and wool, chickens for eggs, etc. We’d have been tied down to the farm and unable to travel, and I would have had to learn to knit, but since the world would have been in chaos, it wouldn’t have mattered. Ah, the good old days.

  5. A woman I know who has MS is planning to try bee sting therapy. But she is cheap and wants to do it at home instead of paying a professional bee sting therapist to do it.

    Apparently you obtain the bees in a jar and then somehow remove one bee at a time with tweezers, hold it over the body part you wish to have stung and squeeze it with the tweezers to make it mad until it stings. It then dies a tragic but supposedly fulfilling death (having given its life for the benefit of another) and the MS sufferer is much-relieved of symptoms for up to 10 days.

    It sounds like bee abuse to me and I will only be involved if the bees have all signed tiny waivers.

  6. i also love imagining little xup spying on bees for hours at a time , being fascinated with something new and mysterious. i wish kids could still be distracted like that these days. i remember doing the same kind of thing when i was kid – i found a bone in our back yard and i spend many summer days playing detective spying on siblings/parents/friends of, trying to determine the murderer. i get myself amused forever with shit like that.

  7. I love bees.

    I think the virgin thing is true. I know a bee charmer. She’s a cowboy lesbian from Alberta. Fern can tell what flowering plant the bees used to make honey from just a taste. When construction crews upset a beehive and had a swarm to deal with they’d call her parents and they’d send Fern out to charm the bees and lead them somewhere new to start their hive again.

    XUP check with Zoom in a couple of weeks. I have a book about bees for you.

  8. Bandobras – No and No. Have you?

    Jazz- Way to world travel in one fell swoop! I just bought a chutney type thing in a French store that you add to an avocado to make guacamole and it has honey it in!! I haven’t tried it yet because I bought it for the kid who’s too lazy to make it from scratch and I want her to eat more avocado.

    LoLa – How interesting! I hadn’t heard of that tradition at all until yesterday and now again!

    Dr. Monkey – Thanks, my life is nothing if not conducive to good trivia.

    Violetsky – YES! That lavender honey…mmmmm

    Helen – It was important to know that stuff once upon a time, I guess. No man wanted to be duped into marrying a used chick now, did he?

    Julia –Good old future days… Honey is a lot easier than maple syrup I think to harvest. You have to boil the beejeezus out of maple sap before you get anything halfway good. Honey – you just steal it from the bees and enjoy as is! Magic.

    Elaine – I’ve heard bee sting therapy is good for all sorts of things. It does seem like a waste of a good bee, when all they’re really shooting into the person is histamine. Couldn’t they manufacture it? Afterall, why go natural when laboratory-made is available?

    Geewits – Ha ha …hmmmm, maybe I DID! If it had been a movie, I definitely would have.

    Meanie – They work their asses off to produce lots of honey and then some big guy comes along and takes most of it!! Hey! That’s just like us and income tax. No wonder we have an affinity for bees. And ya, there I was living in the great beyond with only much younger siblings for company. No TV until I was a teenager and books — I did a lot of reading. There were pickers in the summer, but I wasn’t allowed to talk to them (much). Eventually we got more neighbours. One very young family and one set of holy rollers with 9 kids – all girls..all really odd.

    Trashee – Thanks for the link. I haven’t been stung by a bee in ages. In fact, I haven’t seen a bee in ages. I must ask Robin where he got those bee shots. I just remember they hurt on the bottom of my feet.

    Milan – Why can’t they leave not-so-well-enough alone? Mead was vile enough without extra flavours. Okay, it wasn’t that bad – alcoholic honey. Have you tried any?

    Mudmamma – Ah, a bee whisperer. So do you think Fern is a virgin and that’s why she can charm bees? If she becomes defiled will that rob her of her powers?

  9. I am allergic to Bee stings…I had to take a Benadryl after reading this post just to be on the safe side.

  10. I tried ‘citrus’ because it seemed less fundamentally appalling than ‘tropical punch.’

    That being said, I can see how drinking mead in a proper Viking setting would be fun.

  11. Cedar – You WOULD be allergic to bees. Sheesh. I’m really glad you survived this post, though.

    Bandobras – Prove it.

    Loth – I’ve never seen bees crawling around on the ground. Is that common in the UK? Are you people maybe using too many pesticides?

    Milan – I guess if your only options are citrus and tropical punch… didn’t they just have straight up mead?? I’m thinking those Vikings suffered serious mead hangovers… all that sugar…

  12. I think apitherapy would only be morally acceptable if you somehow bred bees so you could replace each bee which falls on its sword for you with numerous baby bees. Like clearcutting and replanting of trees.

    Otherwise, your arthritis may feel better but the guilt would kill you.

  13. As to Eric.

    Eric The Half-A-Bee
    I love this hive employ-e-e
    Bisected accidentally
    One summer afternoon by me
    I loved him carnally.

    I assume you don’t really want proof that I was stung by a dead bee but if you do , just whistle.
    You know how to whiistle don’t you?
    Just put your lips together and blow.

  14. Why does everyone think bees are so cute?
    What about hornets?
    OK they don’t give you back honey but those of you who are worried about the ethical questions of a bee dying after it stings you should look into hornets.
    2 of those fuckers just stung me about 30 times.

  15. We have a lot of lavender in our yard and, along with it, many bees. I’ve never been stung yet, not a virgin either, they sort of just move away when I am near. I wish I could find where they are making their honey.

  16. Hey there…

    Looking for the bloggers who’re performing tonight to be on All In A Day today… would you be in? Email me if so…

  17. Elaine – You’re right. How could you live with yourself knowing thousands had unwillingly died so you could have a few days of comfort? It’s unconscionable. (And re: Lebowski — ha – I was thinking exactly the same thing as you can see)

    Bandobras – Thanks, I guess.

    Lebowski – A small part of the payback for the steer. These critters are all in league with each other, you know. You’ve amassed a shitload of bad karma over that one. Be careful

    Linda – Ah, you’re a bee whisperer too, maybe??

    Alan – I’ll check it out and let you know. And,… er…we’re not exactly “performing”…just reading a blog post.

  18. Elaine – I don’t have time, sorry. I can’t be expected to post every day!! Sheesh. Why don’t YOU get a blog and then you won’t be so needy.

    Tomorrow I’ll post what I read at Blog Out Loud tonight

  19. Elaine – Rude is part of my overall charm. At least that’s what they usually say just before I never hear from them again. Pleeeeeeaaaassssse don’t go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. LOL … your wonderful ability for story-telling started early. 🙂

    I think bees are cheerful little creatures. It’s nice to spend time w/ them in the garden (a garden w/out the buzzing bees is eery).

    Good luck tonight!

  21. Yes… I remember reading several stories about the disappearing bees. No one could figure it out. At one point, they were even blaming cell phones for screwing up their navigation. I have to say, I was exremely concerned until you mentioned cannibalism, and then I thought, “That’s right, we can still eat people.” Leave it to you to find the bright side. I feel better already.

  22. Oh sure. You hate the police, don’t you? Wasting the cops’ time like that. Maybe if you spent a little more time worrying about people and less time telling bee stories you wouldn’t be such a jerky jerkface. Jerk.

    – Tom Sawyer

  23. Olivia – aren’t you coming tonight? I had hoped to finally meet you.

    Mayopie – Oh man… I KNEW you and Tom Sawyer were the same person. Very clever defending me against your alter ego and then posting that comment a while back saying that you and me were the same person. That threw everyone off the track. Now your goose is cooked because you accidentally posted under your real name – Mayopie – Mwah-ha-ha!! (I’d say I’m laughing my ass off over here, but that’s so cliche since everyone always says that about everything in the blogosphere that’s even mildly amusing, but I really am. You are a seriously twisted hilarious guy)

  24. Actually I think that the Hornets stung me for my doing my part for king and country.
    The are living in my composter and as I think that living on a farm and sending my organics to the town is stupid…. I have it.
    I was throwing out my dog’d food and the little f-ers got me.
    From here on end I am throwing it into the trash.
    The trash that I burn in my back yard!

  25. Be sure to burn some old tires too, Lebowski! A delicious toxic cloud right there in your backyard is what you need to aim for. Because, see, the toxicity will not harm YOU but it will harm all your enemies (aka – the rest of humanity). You rock, Lebowski. Also, you are really smart.

  26. Lebowski – Well, that will certainly teach those wasps a thing or two.

    Woodsy – Who doesn’t love honey? My offspring is even more of a honey honey than I am.

    Elaine – tee-hee-hee

  27. bees are really cool, did you know they are responsible for almonds? or, at least that’s what i learned on my son’s kindergarten trip to a bee farm.

    have you read/seen the “secret life of bees”? i came to love them more after reading about them like that. long live the bees!

    i like your prickly commenters here, i should read your comments more.