Sitting in the bee grove provides meditative views up, down, all around. Desert four-o-clocks sprout from the sandy ground, bumblebees investigate columbines, Stellar digs under the maple. Wind blows birch twigs.
Bee activity is the greatest since we hived them. Two dozen bees at any time in the doorway, either crowding in and out the thoroughfare at the southeast corner, or moving, gathering, staging, along the rest of the threshold. Guard bees investigating those who don’t use the designated entrance. Many many many bees have built a mound of comb at the doorway, the hub, the funnel of their arc from outside. They continue to add wax and move over this mystery mound, maybe laying down the scent of many many many bees, of all the genomes in the hive. A password perhaps, coded into this mound of aromas, a pheromone key to who’s allowed to enter.
This is not morning “venture-outing,” this is evening coming home in droves. My bees, my particular bees, each and every one soon to be named, are returning to the hive at least five times as many as are leaving. I watch bees return as I continue to read the best new book, by Jurgen Tautz, The Buzz About Bees: Biology of a Superorganism. Phenomenal photographs by Helga Heilmann. I am 74% through the book; it’s taken me a week of engrossed and intermittent reading to reach this point. It’s taken me four decades of conscious living.
My theory: Apis melifera as megaorganism, one gigantic superorganism, the species. There is Honeybee with many arms and many branches, tendrils throughout the valleys of the west, throughout the mountains of the east, across all habitats around the world; Honeybee has adapted. They are so much bigger than one colony, one hive, one valley. They are Honeybee, the species.
My bees are forgiving bees. When I stumble around in their home ground they forbear to sting me. This is who I was born to be.
Their comb grows at an exponential rate. The first three weeks the bee ball grew slowly. Suddenly ribs of combs were visible, and now they grow ever bigger toward the window. 33 days have elapsed since hiving, time enough for early brood to hatch, pupate, metamorphose into new bees. New bees cap brood, then feed brood, build comb, guard, then forage, with a few more steps in between. That is the progression of their lives. It’s all laid out for them, and their lives depend upon it. How do they each and all know when to do what? Who to bee at any given moment? The more I learn about their jobs and behaviors, the more fascinating they become to me. Learning their known behaviors and their mysteries gives this pursuit much deeper pleasure.