A few years ago, the Ferry family experienced a traumatic death. We lost all our girls. During the winter, approximately 50,000 honeybees vanished from my backyard. They went into hibernation after Halloween and never woke up. I don’t know where they went, but come spring, there was no one home in either of my hives.
As the air began to warm and the flowers started turning their faces to the sun, the hives remained dark and empty. No one was home. Come the beginning of March, my worst fears were confirmed when the lids were lifted and not a soul was home. No droning hum. No fluttering wings on my hands. My girls were gone.
Honeybees have been a part of my life for many years now. I have a fondness for their company and I admire their lifestyle and work ethic. I devour honey and relish in the bi-annual collection of the blonde liquid. Their disappearing act and careless state of affairs that the hive was left in left me reeling. Questions kept running through my head and doubts clouded my mind…
Where did they go? Why were dead bee carcasses left in the hive and not carried out with all the waste honeybees unload daily? Why were the honeycombs still laden with amber food? Why did they vanish? Why? Why?! WHY?!?
And, the question that stung the most…
What could I have done?
Low and behold the answers are still unknown. It appears that my hit was a case of Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD has been dotting headlines and major publications and news channels for the past few years. It is a mysterious enemy and is killing honeybees and destroying hives at an apocalyptic rate. The beekeepers are helpless. It is a phenomenon of survival of the fittest. The bees are losing the war at a rate that will eventually devastate our food supply and the pollinated crops so many of us love.
My relationship with the bees wanes and waxes throughout the year as the shift from intensive care in spring and summer moves to lackadaisical hovering in winter and fall. And, then the circle begins again. But, this cycle came to an abrupt halt in the early spring of 2007 and has been in a holding pattern since.
I miss my girls. I miss the cyclical predictability of their season. I miss their comforting drone and buzz that fills my ears when inspecting the hives.
The list of excuses has been long and complicated for why these miraculous creatures have not come back into my life. The money hasn’t been there to start up the expensive hives from start. The time wasn’t there the summer after Beckett was born. Sleep and eating on a semi-regular basis were higher priorities. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Truth be told, the nagging excuse that really kept the ship at bay was my conscience and dreadful fear. I don’t want to lose another hive. I don’t want to be disappointed and heartbroken. And, I don’t want to let my girls down.
I am taking a deep breath, pulling my shoulders up straight. The order has been placed for two boxes of bees and the arrival date is set for the first week for May. My stomach is in knots. My beekeeping gear is fluffed and ready. The hives are cleaned and sweet. We are ready with welcoming arms.
As their buzzing bodies are placed into their new homes, I will say a prayer.
I pray that my bees live and flourish in my care and my yard.
I pray that they prosper on their staple diet of pollen and honey.
I pray that I am able to enjoy and deliver the golden nectar to my pantry and my fellow bee devotees.
I pray that my beekeeping fosters in Beckett a magical and wondrous respect for the honeybee.
I pray that my bees prepare for winter with steadfast determination and weather the storm with ease and grace.
I pray that my bees live and flourish.