Wow! This has been a great summer for our honey bees. This truly has been a year where the honey bees are a pleasure for all five senses.
I love watching the bees as they are coming and going from their hive. I watch for the color of the pollen they are bringing in and try to figure out what flowers they might be visiting. I look to see if anyone has maroon colored propolis in their pollen baskets, which are located on their hind legs. I see how many drones are on the doorstep and watch to see what they are doing.
Then there is the buzz to listen to. What is it telling me? Are the bees happily buzzing in flight? Are they sending signals to one another about something? I enjoy listening for the different buzz of the heavy bodied drones. Sometimes I hear the angry buzz of the guard bees trying to keep me away.
The scent of the hive is a unique pleasure. It’s all the best things of the beehive warmed and blended together into an exotic bouquet. The scent of the bees wax combines with the floral scent of ripening nectar and fully ripe honey. Propolis has its own scent which gives the bouquet a weightiness allowing it to ride on the air. When I’m lucky enough to catch the bees fanning their pheromones, sometimes with my nose right up to the girls, I can catch the light, lemony scent that tells their sisters “this is home”. Often times, later in the day, long after I’ve taken off my bee suit and holey gloves, the scent of the hive will come to me, probably carried in the propolis that’s on my thumb! These scents are truly a little bit of utopia.
Working with the bees there is always the awareness of the sense of touch ~ you know what I mean by that! When I’m in the hive and 60,000 bees are going about their duties, I’m sensitive to their temperament and fully attentive to how I’m interacting with them. I’m trying to avoid the touch of their stinger! As a beekeeper, I get my share of stings. Though I try to watch and move carefully, sometimes a bee gets folded in my elbow or is defending her hive and finds my ankle. I always feel it when I’ve killed a bee ~ if she stings me, she dies. This year, stings have been minimal. Instead, I’ve had the pleasure of feeling some of the bees walk along in my hand, or one on my finger, as I help her get out of my car. I always enjoy the lightness of this miraculous being that does so much.
The fifth sense, oh yeah, the sense of taste. I’m delighted to report that we harvested over 50 pounds of honey this summer from the Farm’s hives. The honey has a nice robust flavor to it. It’s stronger than some of the lighter honeys such as the spring honey but it’s not dark and bitter like the buckwheat or some of the other strong honeys. The flavor of our honey is “Goldilocks” flavored, “It’s just right!”
For me, closing my eyes and imagining the pleasure the honey bees bring to any of my senses, fills me with a sense of peace and calm that is often hard to find elsewhere.
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