Bees, Skiing, and Life Lessons

We’ve only been keeping bees for a month now, so I feel it’s kind of early to pontificate about how much we learn from bees or how much they’ve taught us about ourselves and life in general.  Perhaps in five or ten years I will wax poetic about how much we as humans can learn about the hidden secrets to a fulfilling life from the humble honey bee if we would only stop, hold hands in a circle, listen to the buzzing and gaze into their eyes, or something along those lines.  For now, I’ll say they have taught be a small life lesson in humility (aka humiliation).

I knew nothing about bees six months ago.  When Andy and I decided to start this venture, we immersed ourselves into every piece of bee literature we could find.  Books, forums, YouTube. Anything. We learned a lot.  Everything was great on paper.  We could talk like we’d been keeping bees for a decade.  We knew this beekeeping thing inside and out.  This was going to be easy.  But then we got the bees.  And half flew away.  And we screwed up their feeder.  And we got stung – a lot.  (Some more than others.  A super of bees may have been dropped in the process.)  The latest lesson in humility is a rearrangement of the frames I read about, but failed to realize it was for a different purpose and definitely not when it’s 50 degrees and raining outside for days on end.  Maybe someday I’ll admit the details of my mistake publicly, but for now it’s enough for you to know I may be currently killing our bees because I won’t been able to open the hive and fix my mistake until the weather clears tomorrow.

So where am I going with my rambling confession?  I’ve been reflecting/brooding on all the screw ups in such

skiing bee
Can you believe I actually
found a skiing bee on the web?

a short amount of time.  So far it’s been a bumpy ride with very little reward in sight.  But as I was beating myself up about how terrible of a beekeeper I am (I will not say “we”, because I’m not dragging Andy down with me), I remembered the first time I went skiing.  I was horrible.  I literally fell the whole way down the mountain, by which I mean the almost flat bunny slope.  And I did that the whole night.  And the next week.  But by the third or fourth time I got really good at quickly recovering from my falls.  As I moved up to the black diamond courses, I noticed that the people who didn’t fall much on the easy courses had a much more difficult time recovering when they fell.  Everything stopped for them while they gathered themselves and their egos together.

But it was different for me.  I had learned early on how to fall and recover without missing a beat.  By doing it wrong so much the first time, I learned how to do it right and correct myself when I did mess up in the future.

So right now when we’re abusing our bees, being terrible animal husbanders, I am working to replicate this skiing lesson with our bees, trying to take solace in all we’ve learned so far and how much better beekeepers we will be for it in the end.