Not that I’m jealous, but I don’t get all the hullabaloo over bees’ work ethic. Sure, a bee may transport pollen to and fro 50,000 times over its sixty day lifespan, but by the time I retire, I may have pushed paper to and fro a gazillion times over my 30 year career–and yet you rarely hear us paper pushers lauded as hard-working, industrious creatures.
And I don’t get those beekeepers who say humbly, “Well, the bees did all the hard work.” I say humbly, hogwash. Bees don’t lug sixty-pound supers around on 95 degree days while baking in a bee jacket. Nor do they lug cases of honey to the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings to peddle honey to the masses. And, let’s be honest, some patrons of the farmers’ market just need to be told, “Buzz off!”
ME: [trying to remain polite] “Not worth 20 dollars? If you knew all the hard work that went into that quart of honey, you’d probably say it’s worth more.”
CUSTOMER: “Well, don’t the bees do most of the work?”
ME: “KA-BLOOM” [it’s hard to write phonetically the sound of a beekeeper’s morale imploding]
Best I can tell, my bees work four months out of the year–March, April, May, and June–then they shut down shop and goof off in the dearth, then eat and mingle with each other all winter. Meanwhile, a lot of us sideline beekeepers work full-time jobs all year long just to afford our beekeeping addiction, and yet the bees steal all the credit.
And, I hate to admit this, but sometimes I feel a little resentful toward all the press that bees get about being endangered and on the verge of extinction. You know what’s on the verge of extinction? Beekeepers’ backs, and I can’t remember the last time I saw the press writing about the chronic back problems that beekeepers face. Heck, if they need a catchy scientific name to drive traffic to their articles, may I humbly suggest, “SCCD:” Spinal Column Collapse Disorder. Basically, it’s when a beekeeper’s lower vertebrae abscond from normal alignment and leave behind only a few pinched nerves and a big chiropractor bill.
And let’s not forget the parental responsibilities that many beekeepers face that bees just don’t. Bees emerge from the womb of their hexagonal cells as fully capable members of society. There’s no tantrums of the terrible twos, no pre-teen drama, no teenage wasteland, no adult child living in the basement eating them out of house and home. Sure, I guess drones fit that latter category, but even then, the worker bees usually kick them out before they turn 35 years old.
For me, trying to balance sideline beekeeping with working a full-time job and corralling a toddler who has more energy reserves than a small solar system–well, all that, feels like hard work. Add to that the call from my neighbor about a cloud of bees plundering her trash can, and you’ve got a recipe for burnout. Yep, no one ever told me when I was a new and aspiring beekeeper that one day I would be dumpster diving through my neighbors’ trash to excavate Coke cans, but that’s how far I’ve fallen.
8 thoughts on “Oh, How Far I’ve Fallen”
Thank you. That local honey in my morning tea is appreciated.
Yes, somewhere a beekeeper’s back suffered for that tea, lol.
SCCD— how true! Great post.
So funny! As an aspiring (and so far failing) beekeeper I need to pay attention.
Not sure paying attention to what I write would do much good, lol. Beekeeping can be a humbling experience.
So far it has been very humbling.
People simply do not understand the hard work that goes (and cost) in “keeping” bees. Sure, the bees do most of the work… I don’t care! Yes, it’s worth the cost.
Recently I bought some New Hampshire maple syrup at 38$ and a 14$ leather rose. Yes, every bit worth the cost.
Hand made clothing (blankets too) are also expensive and worth the higher cost than store bought (mass produced) crap.
Exactly, and sadly people don’t compare apples to apples. Good local honey should cost more than then thin, diluted “honey” that is funneled in from China through Vietnam.