For many of us, keeping bees began as a slightly nervous adventure, determined to learn about their wonderful world and to try in any way that we could to help them out. After all, we have caused so much of what is now their struggle and for us we wanted to try and do our bit to make that right.
Keeping bees has given us so much, far more I imagine than we have been able to give them in return. But we host them and grow them our wild flower and herb garden to forage from. We've learned to appreciate and love the smallest things, learned to understand our hives, the different approaches and energies, been inspired and awe struck by nature. We've learned to recognize the mornings where one hive will forage but another stays tucked up warm and inside. We've grown to worry for them when we see chemicals used anywhere nearby, when the water table is low and we put out dishes for them to gather at and drink (which has also prompted the digging and gardening of two ponds), on windy nights and frosty mornings when a beam of warm winters light can bring them out of their homes only to meet frost and possibly death. We hurt when one dies and is unceremoniously removed by the other bees from the hive in daily cleaning routines.
This photo series documents what started out as just any ordinary day in mid June would, and which I'd been hoping to share with you all before now but (shamefully) that's how long my backlog of editing is! Well finally here it is.
Seasons bring all kinds of change but as the earth warms up and the skies brighten the greatest changes are those of the hives. They go from would be dormant colonies that you creep up to in the dead of winter and press an ear against the wood praying to hear the mechanical whirring sound: the most wonderful sound, that tells you your girls are still okay, beating their wings to keep the hive warm through the winters cold. With spring they start to get busy and as the days get longer and the pollen greater they can begin their search for places to expand and build new homes. A part of us always hopes they never leave and a part of us hopes they are happy and healthy enough to outgrow their old hives but our whole heart hopes we are there on moving day to usher them into a lovely new hive smudged with lemon balm to welcome them to their new home on the smallholding.
Our summer new bees swarmed beautifully in to the flushed green larch tree in the middle of our chicken run and formed a perfect gather for us to scoop up in our arms. How happy we were not to miss them and be able to house them next to our other colonies in their wild flower meadow.
Bees are like liquid when they swarm, each single one is so much more than its single self but part of a collective with a defined purpose- like a river that holds together its greater self. It amazes me more each time I see this and even when we open the hives, still, I am amazed and in awe of their world and their work. We keep our hives following the natural bee keeping method and observe more than interfere. We have found that there are clear indications of strength and weakness, highs and lows in our colonies and our task has been learning to read these signs and to know when to act. We all know bees are suffering and so it was with even more joy that we were able to welcome a new colony to our small holding.
We have learned more from our bees than any other creature and are so grateful for everything that they have given us. So now when we enjoy some honey, burn a beeswax candle or put on natural wax based hand creams, we always make a wish for the bees! They need our love.
Wishing you all a beautiful autumn,