Keeping Buzzy

Like many other quarantined people, I’ve taken up some new hobbies. Broadening my interests from painstaking embroidery to delicious bread-baking, the new activity I’m most excited for is beekeeping…

It began months ago, when my father in law asked my husband and I if we wanted to take over his hives due to an ongoing bear problem; between having an infant at home and not knowing the first thing about taking care of bees, I was hesitant, but ultimately agreed.

The hives were dropped in our back field at the beginning of April. Those early warm temperatures had me excited at the idea of Spring—this whole beekeeping thing was going to be a breeze. I dreamt of near-Summer sun, not having to bundle up to walk to the apiary, and stretched daylight keeping the field lit past dinnertime. The bees would be busy buzzing about, collecting pollen from the flowers dotting our lusciously green yard while my family would watch them fly by from the comfort of our Adirondack chairs.

Then mid-April hit. Snow, below freezing temperatures, winter all over again. We lost a hive. I was angry with Michigan’s weather, disappointed that I had forgotten about the possibility of snow into May. But with one hive left, I took it upon myself to do extra research to better their chances of survival. If my bees could survive the last bit of winter, stuck inside their little hive-house, then so could I.

Planning this year’s garden and starting the plants and flowers to support our colony is what has gotten us through the last weeks of “second winter.” We get to pick and choose what varieties of vegetables and blooms will benefit our little colony’s ecosystem. We’ve made it into a family activity—together we decide on what to plant and my husband and I take turns watering the seedlings with our daughter. Five months old might not be old enough to understand exactly what’s going on, but we like to narrate and she likes to try to grab the leaves.

The April snow has (mostly) melted; wildflowers have begun popping up all over our yard and the lilac bush outside of my window has sprouted tiny buds. When I go to check on our remaining hive, I’m happy to see the bees are thriving. I think that Spring has truly arrived, and each day I notice a few more bees taking flight, hearing the busy buzzing of a happy hive, signaling good things to come.

-Emily