Ok, so the truth is that there are lots of solitary bees, but they are not the honeybees that have lived and worked beside people for millennia. Why mention this? Because here in my no-longer-secret hometown, my picture is on the front of an article about beekeeping. I'm glad I'm in a veil, because I would never have had the opportunity to even open a hive without the help and friendship and wisdom of many others, and perhaps a few can be imagined in my place instead.
Some of them are beekeepers who are ready to tell others all about it, others enjoy a more private relationship with their bees, but it is a rare beekeeper indeed who does not rely on his or her connection to the rest of our community.
I like to tell people new to beekeeping that there is no such thing as a solo honeybee: a bee on its own is simply doomed. The dependencies are deep and complex: all the bees depend on the one indispensable Queen who is their mother, but she is the most helpless bee of all. The workers, who make the whole hive run, have nowhere to live and no food for the future without the existence of thousands of sisters back home who build and clean and guard and feed all day. Those lazy, fuzzy, funny drone boys cannot even feed themselves when their sisters close the doors to them.
And so many of us have opened our lives to them, some of us because we want to connect with our food supply, others to save the bees who are so essential to our agriculture, some for the love of honey, and some for the love of the green world around us.
Whether we planned on it or not, one of the windows that the bees seem always to open looks out on a world of natural miracles and wonder. And worries and responsibilities and joy as we try to help them thrive in a world that seems just packed full of challenges and threats and flowery opportunities.
Newspaper articles appearing now will perhaps make many more thousands of people aware of the bees on my roof and in yards and in flowers all over this city. My own personal hives have never been so exposed, and I hope I have not done wrong by them in sharing them with you. We live in a world that is full of fear, and I can certainly understand why something so unknown and seemingly out of place could cause concern. But we are in so much more danger without ties to the world and each other, without a community to turn to and ties that reach all the way into the world of bugs, plants, and critters.
I cannot tell you how good it feels to have a relationship that links me to a world of flowers and sunshine.