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Okay, I don’t get covered in bees, but I have had one of my girls chase me around the yard (she had one job to do, dammit, she was going to do it!). And yes if you have taken a guess and thought, “beekeeper”, you’d be on the nose. I have loved bees of all types, especially apis mellifera -that’s honeybee to you and me- since the day one landed on me gently on a Yellowstone National Park train ride as a child. No, I was not stung.

I have never feared them or feared being stung by them. Wasps, hornets, ants, yes, they are foreign to me. But the honeybee and I have always been friends. I love their amber and jet stripes, their zig-zagging flights. I could spend hours as a child watching them dip into flowers only to fly out again pollen dusted to the next flower. I preferred honey to jelly on my peanut butter sandwiches and I love Bit ’O Honey toffees.

As an adult I still prefer PB & H to PB & J. I love Bit ‘O Honey. I like honey in my coffee over sugar. As an adult I read books on bees and beekeeping. And when our fine pollinating friends reached a crisis with Colony Collapse I took classes with a local beekeeper. I bought my hive and my equipment and ordered my girls – who arrived in the mail by way of the post office.

I have had trials and travails. I lost my first hive when they swarmed off with the queen leaving half of their sisters behind to make their own queen, then they came back to rob and kill their previous family. Yes, it’s a dangerous game in the bee world, folks, they don’t always play nice!

I subsequently lost two more hives when my neighbors sprayed a noxious chemical for the fleas on their dogs. And I lost two boxes of bees shipped to me by UPS whose delivery guy smothered one box two plastic garbage bags because he feared getting stung. And the second box because folks at the UPS thought it would be funny to shake the box hard multiple times and they drowned in their own sugar syrup. But this last hive of mine is still standing (bought at the Beeweaver apiary in Dripping Springs that I personally shipped home in my car). I feel like that guy who built his castle in a swamp in “Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail”. It may have taken many tries, but I finally have a thriving hive.

Native bees and foreign bees (honeybees are invaders brought over from Europe) are so important to our ecology. Without them we would not have many of the fruits, flowers, or nuts that we enjoy today. So, build mason bee houses, and bumble bee hives. Support charities that help our pollinators and fight against companies like Beyer and Monsanto.

And think of becoming a backyard beekeeper. 🐝

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