Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bee Boxes

My grandfather, my beloved Papa, kept honey bees in a few bee boxes in his and Grandma's yard. I wasn't as interested in all of that while my grandparents were alive as I am now, and I wish I had been: I want to keep bees someday too, and while I will learn the how-to when I need to, I wish I had the memories of having learned all about beekeeping firsthand from Papa. I would watch the bees from a safe distance as some exited the boxes and others flew toward them, and I was fascinated by the design of the honeycombs Papa would bring into the kitchen--the honeycombs are edible, although my parents still wince when they tell the tale of the time Papa bit into a honeycomb and ended up swallowing a live bee--but I didn't pay attention to the actual honey-gathering. While helping my parents clear out my grandparents' house in 2001, we came across an old instructional booklet on beekeeping, and I was shocked to realize that Papa hadn't always known how to do this either--that he too had been interested and had had to learn from others. There is comfort in that knowledge for me.

My very last visit to my grandparents' house about a month after they had died, I waffled for an hour over whether to disassemble the bee boxes and pack them into the car to take with me, but I ultimately decided to leave them behind. I didn't want the bee boxes unless I could also have the sloped part of the yard they had always sat on, near where my childhood Beagle was gently buried by Papa, across from the raspberry bushes and tomato plants and flower gardens, feet away from Papa's thinking tree. . . . I didn't want to keep the bee boxes unless I could also keep Papa and Grandma's yard and house and Papa and Grandma always inside. I sometimes think I should have taken the bee boxes after all, though, and just lived with the heartache of their missed surroundings. I don't know.

Papa and Grandma and their bee boxes and their jars of fresh honey are all on my mind tonight as I keep adding store-bought honey to hot tea as I battle a cold, and also because I had a sad dream about my grandparents last night. I have dreamed of them only a handful of times since they died in the spring of 2001, and most of those dreams have been nightmares like last night's. I miss Papa and Grandma so much, and part of me will never believe that if I knocked on their door right now, they wouldn't open it and welcome me inside. Ah, Life. I am so blessed just to have had a "Papa and Grandma" at all, and I will someday have another happy dream of them, and I believe there will eventually be a reunion. Papa and Grandma missed people they had loved, as well, there are still bees out there traveling back and forth from boxes to flower gardens, and life goes on. 


kent said...

Great pics! I recently learned my great grandfather kept a large number of hives on the old farm in Buchanan. My grandfather kept a handful up until a decade or so ago. Whenever I bring up keeping bees he looks into the middle distance, sighs, and says "bees will break your heart" and other less than helpful things. Then, after a wistful couple minutes, he twinkles and casually asks me questions and feeds me tidbits of knowledge. I disagreed with him once and he told me (unfortunately, probably truly), that my book learning was going to catch me up short again.

Keeping bees seems like a gamble, but it'd be fun to win the gold once in a while, wouldn't it?

Val said...

Kent! You have bee knowledge! :) How great that you can ask your grandfather about it (and get his help combating all those book smarts). :) Pay extra attention to him--Because someday you'll be one of the people I call on for help with this endeavor. :)

DrMom said...

My Uncle Bill kept bees too! Isn't that weird..must be a Pennsylvania thing.

I miss my grandparents too, Val, although I never dream about them. It's wonderful you got to live close by. We were always a state away.

Rose said...

What sweet memories your grandparents gave you, Val. I have no doubt that when the time is right, you too will be a bee keeper. Keep the dream.


Just Plain Jane said...

The bee crisis is worrisome, isn't it? If this link works for you, I think you'll find it interesting. What the article describes is just two blocks away from where we live.

Val said...

Carol, that's really neat, and that's the uncle you blogged about awhile back, right? How sweet. And you're right that I'm lucky to have had them live nearby.

Rose, thank you. Keep the dream, I shall. :)

Jane, I had to search for the article, but I think I found the right one--about the huge bee hive that had to be removed? Such an expense for your neighbor, but it's wonderful that she chose to move the hive rather than than destroy it.

Sara said...

What a sweet post. (Pun pretty much intended!) I had a wonderful Pap and Nan who taught me so many wonderful things, too. No beekeeping but still lots of great stuff.

"bees will break your heart" - I think I like that :) I've developed such a reverence/respect/love for these under-appreciated/humble/magnificent creatures. I wish everyone could know how wonderful they are!