We humans, more often than not, apply our own brand of reason to what we think should be. We decide what is right or wrong based upon our view of what we think is fair and feel ill at ease with what we find unjust. Nature, in all of it’s beauty, can be as savage as kind with equally as much effort. We are compelled to describe nature as “Mother”, but we certainly would never long for “Mom” to apply her fickle, irrational moods on our behalf.
As beekeepers and bees come out of this winter with tails and stingers between their legs, it is apparent that we have been taught yet another lesson in Darwinism. Survival of the fittest is the sport Mother Nature plays with erratic disposition. She uses her own rules in this game to command all things in the natural world to submit to her will. As our hives die from severe winter, a cry goes out calling for a stop to the madness, then followed by blame for one reason or another. It’s easy to forget that this cycle of birth and death not only fits into the natural plan, it is the plan. Nature can sweep away the weak with seemingly reckless abandon and does so at will. Not defiantly or carelessly, but efficiently. When, at last the smoke clears, we are left with only the strong. They, the strongest of the lot, survive and will carry on after the weak have fallen away. Paradoxically, a heartless plan of perfection. We must always be mindful of what our place is in this thing they call beekeeping. We are the guardians of our bees but we are also the undertakers, shaman, friends, proud parents and mourners of these little creatures who bless us with sweet honey whether they like it or not. Mostly not.
The long season ahead will teach and harden some of us and discourage the rest into giving up. As of late, beekeeping has gotten to be more of a challenge for sure. Those of us who give up from frustration are akin to the colonies who succumb to the winter. Sometimes the cards that are dealt are not those that afford a winning hand. The players who are left at the table will carry on and eventually defeat mother nature at, hopefully, some of her worst trickery. Although she will always have another trick up her sleeve, we beekeepers persist and have done so for thousands of years. Truly an ancient and honorable trade, this beekeeping thing. We meld with our bees into a veil of silver smoke and become one with the colony, gently caring for their needs and protecting them from harm the best we can. After all, doing our best is all we can do. So, I offer this encouragement and hope that all of you will feel renewed as the mild weather certainly returns once again. That perfect spring day is near when the bees will fly, you will look into your hives and smile, pollen and nectar will flow in, brood will fill frames, swarms will come forth, cells will birth new queens, you will run to keep up with your ever expanding apiary, honey will be collected and you will try harder and smarter with each passing year. After all this is done, your hearts will be filled with enough pride and satisfaction to last yet another winter.