Around the Island

Back to Your Roots: Honeybee beginning

SARAH SHEPHERD PHOTO | Bees visiting an amethyst crystal in Sarah Shepherd’s garden.
SARAH SHEPHERD PHOTO | Bees visiting an amethyst crystal in Sarah Shepherd’s garden.

The countdown is here. Spring is around the corner. You can feel it with the readiness of the tree buds, and the burst of new beginning spring beauty. It has been a long winter for the honeybees I keep in my yard. One of my top bar hives allows me to remove an outer piece of wood and peek into a side window that offers a glimpse into the inner world of the residents.  

I kneel down to take a moment and breathe in the smell of a healthy hive —  the warmth it continuously keeps and the harmony and cooperation from all within. I wonder what it must be like to wait months within the darkness of the hive, patiently waiting for the brief glimpse of warmer days. To have a chance to stretch your wings, fly and visit the light.

From small pools, fountains and puddles the honeybee will collect water and return it to the hive. I often have some crystals and stones placed in my bird baths and I find that the bees like to visit and collect water from the delicate cracks of the stones.

Early blooming shrubs and flowers serve as a food source, some bees are already busy returning with pollen to feed the brood. I see various pollen types being returned to hive. I try to visualize what flower it is and how far the young worker bee traveled to collect it.

Savory fragrances fill the air as I begin cutting back stalks of last year’s garden abundance and add it to the compost. Layers of decay build and will form next year’s foundation for growth. Some of the dried herbal stems I will save for the hive smoker this spring. Rosemary, sage, lavender and thyme are especially fragrant and put off a cool smoke that the honeybees respond well to. I look around and I see the honeybees busy doing their chores and  it motivates me to do mine.

The flowers that press up from the earth are a continual reminder that things are always changing. The warmth is coming and honeybees will be back in full force, igniting the spring, dawning the dandelion. Who would think that as the winter breathes away into spring, that the hive, still beneath the cold, exhales.