Thursday, May 5, 2011

Here, Have Mine

Honeybees are adventurous sorts. They fly from flower to flower filling their bellies with sweet nectar or their legs with fuzzy pollen. To fill up completely before returning to the hive, they must visit approximately 1500 flowers.

Foraging bees begin their life outside the hive 3 - 4 weeks into their lifespan. When a nectar-collecting bee comes back to the hive, she finds a younger home bee. The younger bee, living in the darkness of the hive, extends her proboscis, and in a life affirming kiss, sucks the nectar out of her foraging sister. Next she takes it to the prepared hex-shaped empty comb to begin the ripening process.

Bee feeding each other from Beekeeping Pictures

On Monday I turned 30. It was a simple affair involving Indian take-out, fudgey chocolate cake, family and a few friends. Among them was my oldest friend of 30 years, Katy. In some ways, Katy and I are near opposites. As babies she was nut-brown with adorable dark curls. I was blonde, nearly hairless, and looked like a boy. I became the fairy princess and sports failure, she became a basketball star. I'm a musician with long dark hair. She's a scientist with short, cropped hair. But.... we get each other. We have emergency coffee dates in the morning by the river. We go to the farmers market and buy flowers and peaches. We make fun of our families together.

Last month Katy bought a cookie for my partner, Cole. Cole was late. Katy decided to eat this one, and buy him another. I had just eaten, but being pregnant at the time meant that cookie looked awfully necessary in my belly. She shared. She always shares. Then she told me a story. She had run into Sharon, our old pre-school teacher the other day. If you're lucky, most times you run into Sharon, she has some little piece of memory you've forgotten about those precious years of 3 and 4. This time it was phrases. Apparently Sharon and her aid used to pick out phrases that belonged to each kid. The type of thing that defined the child, and was heard often, such as "More juice" or "Superwow." In all the years of Stepping Stones Pre-School, there was only one circumstance where two children had the same catch phrase. It was Katy and I, naturally. Katy and I shared two imaginary friend brothers, so why not our catch phrase? I asked Katy what the famous words might be, and she responded: "Here, have mine!"

We bought another cookie for Cole. We shared that one too.

Today a friend told me that when a honeybee travels too far and has become depleted, another bee from the hive may come to her aid. First, the lively bee assesses whether or not the tired bee is in the natural process of dying from old age. If not, the helper bee will actually feed her sister some of her own nectar so that she may regain the strength to return to the hive. I couldn't help but think of Katy.

So, in the nature of Honey-Nectar and 30 years of sharing: Here, Have Mine.


  1. This made me cry. Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a beautiful post, Ari. From what I can tell, all your posts are quite beautiful.

    I'm a friend of Amber's and I just started fulfilling the latest step in a long journey of hopefully becoming a bee-keeper. I've got two hives of Italian Bees out in a friend's apple orchard on this the coldest, rainiest spring here since record keeping began and can only hope that my furry womyn know what they are doing.

    Anyway, I'm excited to follow your adventures, especially since I'm hoping maybe next year to add a top bar hive and another colony to house it. We don't have many beekeepers out here, or many swarms, but capturing a swarm would be amazing.

    Thank you for sharing all this with us. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures.

    Bright blessings and bee thoughts,

  3. Milla, Your ladies should be fine as well as the have enough nectar flow. If the apple orchard is in bloom, then yes, they will have easy access to forage. They are amazing at regulating temperature. I used the topbar hive design from Phil Chandler at, which has an open mesh base. Just today I went out and jimmy-rigged a bottom board to help keep the bees warmer, but when I put my hand up against the mesh I was pleased and astonished to feel and incredible amount of heat streaming down from all those little bodies moving around together. I wish I could have more hives this season, but I'm still just starting. would love to talk! thanks for following the blog. :)

  4. Hi again Ari, and thanks for the reply. I'm just getting back into the internets and am delighted to see so many posts up from you. It seems that you and I are on the same beautiful path on this bee-adventure and it will be interesting to see how your topbar folk do. We have friends that have two regular langsroths (which is what mine are) and a topbar and it seems the topbar colony is equally strong.

    Out of my two colonies one has a screened bottom (we didn't have time to make one before their arrical) and the other does not and it seems that one with the most ventilation does better. I'm not so much worried about them getting cold, but rather the orchard not blooming (it's a month or more late this year) and the colony being weak from the awful travel. Bee rearing and packaging and moving is just abhorrent to me, but I feel good about having these colonies and being able to provide for them in the form of abundant apple, blackberry and lavender blooms.

    Things are definitely a little trickier here since we're in the Pacific NW and moisture is a huge issue and it doesn't always get very warm in the summer. Most beekeepers here discover the hard way that you got to feed them through the first few winters and most I know don't keep them for honey, but for pollination, and the more spiritual aspect of it.

    Anyway, like I said, I'm very excited and grateful that Amber pointed me to you and look forward to a summer of bee wonders. Happy Spring!

  5. Happy Spring to you as well! Send some photos when you get a chance. The PNW is so beautiful. I"m sure your bees are more than happy to be with someone who loves and cares for them the way you do.
    I bet the forum at would have some good advice for dealing with wet summers since most of the beekeepers are from England.
    Enjoy the budding spring and much love to your bees and fruit trees! May the nectar flow be abundant!