I've had opportunities to do some pretty unique things - roam the streets of Rio, perfect my breadmaking abilities, watch whales breech outside my window in Cape Town, scour the forest for morel mushrooms, assist at an alpaca sheering - all experiences I carry in the pockets of my memory that have contributed to who I am and what I love.
Most recently I have donned my beekeeping hat and become friends with my fellow honey-lovers, the honeybee. My mom would tell you that I've always had something of a thing for honey, eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches everyday - the odd man out of the PB&J crowd at school. I've studied the thread of honey that runs through the Bible and taught lessons on honey as a parallel for the sweetness of God's presence and word. A good friend of mine did an entire project on the honeybee when we were in art school. She made a shrine to the honeybee as a sculptural nod to the fate of the honeybee and Colony Collapse Disorder - a mysterious phenomenon in which honeybees are quite simply disappearing. So when I discovered several months ago that a friend of mine was going to start his own hive this spring, I asked if he'd let me be(e) a part of his keeping (the beekeeping puns never end). My living situation doesn't allow me to keep my own hive, so shadowing someone else's beekeeping venture is the next best thing.
With snow still on the ground, we plotted and schemed, watching beekeeping videos on YouTube and checking out the total of 2 books on beekeeping from the library, awaiting the arrival of the bees. I was essentially "on call" for the latter half of the month of April, never knowing when the bees would arrive and be ready to install. They couldn't have come during a worse week of April weather in Chicago, delaying the installation of the bees as they buzzed in their little box, sipping from the can of sugar water. At last the rain subsided and we went out with our bee guru's guidance - excited and terrified by the 3,000 bees about to be unleashed. After a bit of counsel, adrenaline, and sugar water, the bees were safely nestled in their new hive, with their beast of a queen and only a few casualties. We left the bees to get acquainted with their new home and Her Majesty with only a single bee sting. Mission accomplished.
I couldn't be more excited about the chance to slip into a bee suit, harvest some local honey in the fall, and add another grande adventure to my repertoire of experiences.
Here's to the honeybee.