A day’s morning in October, a day I can’t recall the name of was a morning I watched a bee collecting pollen for it colony. The bee pranced around a rose bush in the park where I watched Iggy sniff around for little treasures of putrid smells. The bee had quite a collection of pollen surrounding his two hind legs; he must have been prancing around flowers since daybreak. I wondered two things as I intently watched this bee complete his daily chore; 1) how wonderful it must be to spend your hours inside of a flower and then go back to your house made of honey, and 2) which was a wish. I wished I could follow this bee to his house made of honey. For the next couple weeks I developed a growing urge to find a bee colony in the wild.
During the afternoon of October 17th, my wish was granted. I didn’t follow a bee to his colony’s home as I irrationally had wished, I rather stumbled upon it in a place quite familiar to me.
As I walked along the Greenbelt’s trail on the 17th of October, I was about a mile down from my preferred entrance to the trail when I heard a collection of humming coming from above. I looked above and to my astonishment a colony of bees had made their house of honey on the side of a cliff nearly twenty feet above my head! (In the picture above the bee hive is to the cactus’ left and under the bush-thing)
I stared at the bees and their hive in disbelief for few good minutes. I studied the perfectly shaped curves of the honeycombs and the current of bees coming and going from their hive. I imagined how heavenly the honey must be and was tempted to climb up and grab a taste.
That Saturday I worked at the Barton Creek Mall’s farmer’s market and showed my findings to the farmer of Comanche Oaks Farm. I showed him the hive and he told me the hive won’t be active for too much longer. He explained to me that the colony I found was homeless and is looking for home in a hallowed out tree or a cave, somewhere hidden and not so exposed as this hive was. He told me that the hive would be gone within a few days. The Comanche Oaks farmer told me that I should take the bees from their cliff, put them in an apiary and harvest their honey.
For the few days that followed that Saturday I started to look into the logistics of beekeeping and watched the documentary “More Than Honey.” The documentary showed the life of bees living in apiaries, both big and small, and how their mass exploitation is furthering their demise. The documentary shows the complex society that is functioning within a hive and exemplifies the beauty and importance of this species. It also showed how the beekeeper manipulates their hives and how this causes devastating effects to the colonies. If the colony is manipulated to a lethal extent the colony has been known to collapse. The narrator shows through the multitude of beekeeping stories the fact that we are not given honey from bees but we rather steal the bee’s honey.
The message given by the narrator reminded me of a quote in Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, the quote is as follows,
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
As I thought about the bees in the documentary and Aldo Leopold’s quote I decided to leave the colony I had found alone. I realized that the wildness of the colony I had found was rare in today’s age. I thought of how happy the bees I had found must be, free from the restraints of the human and free from our greed.
I visited the cliff again on the 31st, expecting for the hive to be abandoned as the Comanche Oak’s farmer had theorized and to my dismay the hive was still there, flowing in and out of their hive. I found out from my research that bees go into hibernation during the winter months and that October will probably be this colony’s last month of production. I thought of the beekeepers in the documentary that gave their colonies sugar water for the colony’s food for their long winter hibernation and stole the honey the colony had worked so hard to produced over the warmer months.
My eyes filled of tears as I looked at the colony twenty feet above me. I scolded myself for even thinking about taking a bit of their honey, not even wanting to think about how a week earlier I wanted the whole hive. I decided to climb up the cliff to get a better look at the colony’s hive and enjoy the idea of their harmonious world.