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Friday, March 11, 2016

Of Bees and Grandchildren: Taking Time Out to Make Memories

Bee babies, capped and uncapped
I'm taking a break from responding to nasty anonymous comments (I've been getting them on my post about Reagan. Goodness, can't we say something kind about someone unless he/she is a saint?)

Instead I'm focusing on something I really love that fills me with joy: beekeeping! We did our first Spring inspection this afternoon and our hives look wonderful. You can see the details here. There is something soothing about watching and caring for these amazing little creatures. Sometimes problems arise that make it challenging and frustrating, but it is always fascinating. They are such an example of working for the good of the "family." Everybody has a job and they go about it from dawn til dusk. No wonder we have the expression, "busy little bees."

I told my four-year-old granddaughter when I came in from the bee yard that there were lots of baby bees in the hive. She wanted to see one so I found a picture on my computer of bee larvae and told her how the nurse bees make a little cradle (a cell) for each baby where the queen lays them, then they give the babies food, and cover them up with little blankets called caps. Then the babies grow and after several weeks chew their way out to join all their sisters. After we looked at the babies I showed Bianca a diagram of a bee and pointed out the bee's tongue that's like a straw and her "honey stomach" where she collects the nectar to bring it back to the hive to store and turn into honey.

All that talk about bees and honey made Bianca want to eat some, so we went out to the kitchen and I gave her a spoonful of honeycomb dripping with honey. That brought over her little brother who's going on two to get his share of the yummy goodness. And then big sister Marianna asked for a spoonful of honey with no wax. I have a jar that's starting to crystalize and she thought it was extra good because of the sugary consistency. I agree. It reminds me of pralines.Maybe we'll dip pecans next visit.

As you can imagine, honey is a popular item in Grandma's kitchen and I often have little beggars asking for "pretzels with honey" so they can dip. I'm happy to oblige.

While today's discussion was a biology lesson about honey bees, I think another time I'll tell Bianca and her siblings about God giving the Israelites in the Old Testament a "land flowing with milk and honey." And how John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey in the desert. I will ask them if they think bugs would taste good dipped in honey? They'll giggle and then I'll give them some nuts and have them imagine they are with John in the desert eating locusts dipped in honey. Maybe their ears will perk up in church when they hear John's name in the readings.

Many saints used honeybees as examples in their writings. Here's just one quote from St. Francis de Sales:
The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them.
We have a lot to learn from honeybees as we do from all of God's creation. His fingerprints are everywhere around us in the world He made. I know He is in our bee yard and I never tire of thanking Him for the gift of introducing us to this wonderful adventure.

If you're in the neighborhood stop and join us for a prayer of thanksgiving and a pretzel dipped in honey!