Tuesday, May 15, 2012


by Zinta Aistars

When beekeeper Jonathan Noble stops by Z Acres on a warm evening to talk bees, I'm all ears. I am fascinated to learn all he cares to share about keeping bees and helping bees thrive when we are hearing so much these days about "colony collapse." Colony collapse is a term that speaks to sudden death of entire bee colonies. Scientists are yet working to determine the reasons. Could be mites or other pests, could be disease, could be the use of pesticides, could be manipulation of the natural processes of a bee's life. Or all of the above.

Jonathan has been installing bee hives around area farms for some years, including on my own Z Acres, working with the previous owner. I am most agreeable to continue this barter of land in exchange for honey.

On Monday night, at the late hour of 11 p.m., I hear the distant whir of a machine at the back border of my ten acres. Living in the country means very dark nights, as there are no street lights of any kind, so the row of small golden headlights on Jonathan's fork lift gleam in the distance like something alien.

I pull on a jacket and walk out into the night to watch from a distance. I see the shadow of the fork lift move back and forth, back and forth, placing four large pallets of hives along the tree line at the border. I am most curious ...

If Jonathan installs the hives at night because the bees are sleepy at that time and not inclined to sting, I wake at dawn to take a closer look for the same reason. I'm sleepy and so are the bees--but I'm more curious than sleepy.

It's dawn, the sun just coming up, and the ground is soaked with dew. My jeans are soaked to the shins from walking over the fields of tall grass and last summer's corn stalk stubs.

And there they are: the hives. Large boxes, still silent. No, wait. I hear them, just barely. I lean in closer to listen to the slowly waking hum of honeybees inside. My old chow pup, Guinnez, sniffs around the edges of the hives and seems to sense something ever so slightly ominous. Buzzzzzz ....

We circle around as the sun comes up and decide to get a move on before the hives get too warm with waking life. But oh, I'm excited! I've already been enjoying a bottle of Noble Honey with my hot tea--it's the sweet nectar of honeybees and local flowers. I feel good about being a small contributor to giving the bees a new place to thrive. I want to learn more ...

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