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Accidental Beekeeper

For a few years, the bush stayed put, growing in its private bed abutting my shack in the woods. Then it sallied forth under the flagstone sidewalk, into the ramshackle yard, snuggling up over by the trees near the shed.  Spreading like the happiest of weeds. Meadowsweet, I am told, is its name.

Meadowsweet is a beautiful weed, flowering in fine clusters of tiny flowerettes, in shades ranging from pastel pink to hot violet. And the rampant ravenous deer let them be.  Some kind of miracle.

Most magically, this scrappy shrub is beloved by bees, spirea bees to be precise. Fluffy with dramatical black and yellow stripes, the bees feast in the hot sun, muzzling depths of nectar. They lumber up one by one, hoisting their swinging bums, arc to a neighboring bloom, settle, quieten, feed.  Then up again. Their buzz lulls like the ocean. Dozens swaying over the swaying flowers are kaleidoscopic.

I do not spend dark nights worrying about bee colony collapse, as serious a global issue as it is. On the other hand, I wash vegetables in a bowl of water, not a gushing stream. I try to waste less. I compost even though I do not garden. Iridescent orange salamaders scurry through my compost. I give them room and board.

I love hosting the bees, sheltering the endangered. And it is a risk, since I am allergic to bees. I do worry at night whether I might step on their hive and I am trying to find it. Okay, so this is living dangerously. But only a little bit. Nature carries dangers. Life does.  That’s life.

I am diligent in annointing my feet with rosemary oil, which repels the bees and ticks and mosquitoes. I observe the biological spectacle at close range without fear. I intend to nourish these bees, a tiny gesture of environmental stewardship, but mine, all mine.

Let that shrub colonize this nano-bit of earth. I do not mow, nor grow, but am letting the wild woods encroach, year by year. I am happy to receive these flowers from nature. In a hundred years, perhaps, my cabin will be thicketed within florid bramble, guarded by thousands of dazzling, well fed bees, ready to defend their ancestral home–and me too, the one who nurtures nature.

All in all, in my own small way, just like my MADRE sisters.

June 30, 2013  / Environmental Justice