"That buzzing noise means something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you're a bee... And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey."Yesterday we had the good fortune, karma, luck, whatever you want to call it, to catch our THIRD swarm of bees. I have been thinking about this non-stop since 12:30 pm yesterday when Joe first noticed the distinctive buzzing-noise and tracked it to a redwood tree in our neighbor's yard. How is it that before we started beekeeping, each of us, Joe and I, had seen only one swarm of bees ever in our lives, but as soon as we started learning beekeeping, bought our own bees, not one, not two, but three swarms have landed practically in our laps?
- Winnie the Pooh
From bird-watching, snorkeling and diving, I've learned that the more you look, the more you see. It's crazy and gratifying how as soon as you start noticing, there is so much to notice, so much more than you noticed before. It keeps expanding! And surely now, because we're attuned to bees in a way we never were before, we're more likely to notice. But three swarms? OK, it's true that there is a big hive two doors over from us, under someone's deck, the confirmed source of the first two swarms we caught last year, and most likely the source of yesterday's. And right now, April, is a very likely time of year for swarms. But really, why always come over toward our place? And why always swarm when people are coming over for meals?
The first swarm arrived in our apple tree on Mother's Day 2009; we had all of three weeks' experience under our belts and were just wrapping up brunch in the garden with friends. A week later, another swarm landed in a tree next door, and Joe, his humerus freshly broken and casted, worked with our neighbor Dave to capture them while his parents and I waited for him to come home so we could eat. This time, a year and a week after we started our beekeeping adventure, Joe noticed the swarm just I was starting preparations to host my parents for lunch. He threw down his hat and the weed-wacker, grabbed the swarm-catching necessaries and was off, 100% engaged in the task, delighted. It was, so he says, the easiest catch yet. We went back last night to pick up the hive box, drive them here and set them up in their permanent spot in the yard.
It's wonderful to have more bees. We lost two of our three hives over the winter, one colony was weak and starved after stronger bees robbed their food stores; the other lost their queen late, too late to make another and they eventually died, too, leaving behind a hive full of honey. Our only remaining hive until yesterday was the first swarm we caught, the Mother's Day bees, so wild and sturdy, such tough survivors. And now we're up to two again, more wild-caught bees, likely to survive and prosper.
Of course I know it's just a combination of circumstances -- the location of the mother-hive, the season, perhaps the breeze -- that has brought us three colonies of bees since last year. It's not a reward for good behavior, it's not karma, but damn, it sure feels like something more than just luck. We're listening for the buzzing-noise, so naturally we're going to hear it, but that doesn't explain the Why Us we feel every time the buzzing-noise shows up. I am fully aware that it's not personal (even though part of me wishes it were), that it's instead that somehow we've managed to create, just maybe, a deliciously intoxicating pollen- and nectar-rich oasis aromatic with bee-ness. Whatever the reason, every time has felt like a charm, like a privilege and delight. Keep coming over - we can't get enough!