We are now on the upswing…moving towards the light now that we’ve passed Solstice. I have been nursing along one of my weaker hives this winter. Trying to be helpful, I’ve flooded them with honey at times, the excess leaking out of the crevices of the hive. Dead bees also poured out with the honey, and I saw specks of varroa mites. They are in a bad way. The realization that they weren’t sucking down the sustenance I gave them, but rather most of it was dripping away, gave me the first inkling that something was wrong…I wonder what I will find when I open them up the first warm day of Spring.
Beekeepers tend to be pragmatic about the life and death of their bees. Certainly in this day and age we don’t expect all our beehives to survive the winter. But the writing is clearly on the wall. Bees are in trouble. Last year 40% losses were counted nationwide. And that is far and above the usual winter die back.
Sometimes a day in my beekeeping life parallels my feelings about what is happening in the world around me. My bees die. I grieve. Another mass shooting happens. I despair. Another racist act or comment…a chemical spill…a mine splits open into a river…an ugly political moment. And then I realize that I am focusing on the wrong thing.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes in a 2003 article published under the title: “Do Not Lose Heart…” (Creations Magazine. December 17, 2015)
…you are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet…I urge you, ask you…to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because the fact is—we were made for these times.”
Pinkola Estes then goes on to lay out the merits of a seaworthy vessel, having grown up herself on the Great Lakes. She likens those who are awake and ready to endure these times as capable crafts in the water—setting sail on stormy seas. “Despite your stints of doubt, your frustrations in arighting all that needs change right now, or even feeling you have lost the map entirely, you are not without resources, you are not alone. Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you….when a great ship is in the harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But…that is not what great ships are built for…remember who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth[at this time]. ”
Wonder is everywhere. Lest I forget, I see the sun sparkle in a brilliant blue sky. I get to eat crinkly, fresh kale from someone’s winter garden. I smell the cedar hanging heavy in the evening air from someone’s chimney. I awaken from where I have snuggled with my tribe of kittens and husband at night, cozy and warm. I get up on my own two legs this morning and glide along miles of silent, powdered snow on skiis. Three out of four of my beehives appear to be kicking and very alive
And so this day, this one beautiful day, I will keep the hope alive. And maybe the next day…