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“…it feels like the world is getting smaller, and we’re more connected than ever before.” ~ Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Bees clustered in a tree, looking for a new home

Bees clustered in a tree, looking for a new home

Shortly after we moved in to our new house this past March, I stepped outside one afternoon to find a swirling, dark cloud in the sky. There was a bee box on the other side of our fence and a hive was moving in. I was a bit startled at first but transfixed by the humming, whirling swarm. I watched the cloud slowly diminish as they formed a pile of little bee bodies on the side of the box and made their way inside through a narrow slot.

Our homebuilder, who is also now a good friend of ours, was excited to see the bees moving in. He had planted several fruit trees around our house and was growing more trees and vegetables nearby.

My experience with bees had not been a good one. I was used to angry wasps and pesky yellow jackets. I was also unhappily aware of and cautious of Africanized bees once they moved into the area where I was living at the time. Some of my fear stemmed from media hype and some from memories of a movie called The Swarm that was popular back in the day. For those of you who weren’t around “back in the day,” the swarm was about killer bees invading Texas. Very realistic. Well, probably not so much but I was a bit young at the time.

After watching our friend getting up close and personal with the bees that first day, I moved in closer to check them out while standing back behind him, as if that would protect me.

We ended up planting vegetables out near the bee box and while I’d be out watering or weeding I’d sometimes find myself disrupting their flight path. They’d casually bump into me until I realized I was in the way. Even with their proven lack of interest in what I was doing, I about had a heart attack the first time I accidentally sprayed the bee box with the sprinkler. I thought for sure they were going to chase after me like a swarm of miniature flying attack dogs. Thankfully, I was wrong and I began to grow more comfortable with their presence.

We created a nice little garden in our backyard and I found myself planting flowers and sowing seeds for flowering plants. We weeded by hand instead of using pesticides, that way we didn’t kill the bees and we were able to feed the weeds to our neighbor’s chickens.

A day came when another dark cloud hovered over the bee box, the hive appeared to be moving out.  Swarming as they did when they moved in, the bees moved up into a nearby tree. Once they’d collected there, we could see that part of the hive remained in the bee box. Apparently a new queen is produced in the colony that stays behind and the old queen leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees. They gather near the original hive while scout bees go out and look for another place for the hive to live.

Our friend managed to snag another bee box to corral this new colony, keeping them nearby. Crazily enough, yet another swarm showed up in this same tree. And crazily enough, that swarm too was gathered in another bee box and placed on another corner of our neighboring lot. So the garden area we’d planted by the original bee box is now surrounded by a total of 3 bee boxes. That’s a lot of flight paths to dodge but we work together nicely. Our vegetables and fruit trees did fairly well, and after harvesting much of our backyard garden we let it go to flower so the bees could enjoy it a little while longer.

In response to the theme CONNECT, I posted this photo of the last hive I mentioned. It was taken shortly after their arrival.  Not only are these individual bees connected to one another as they hang somewhat precariously off the tree branches, but the colonies, having divided, are connected. I am connected, and whether you see it or not YOU are connected.

WE are all connected, and that’s pretty damn cool.