A Beekeeper's Heart

A week ago I returned home from San Francisco in slushy snow. Easter Day is green and sunny. 
A theory unfolds like our daffodils.
          Thankfully, my delayed flight to San Francisco on April Fools’ Day was smooth, so I read some First Lessons in Beekeeping by Keith S. Delaplane. “The very word ‘beekeeping’ implies the existence of a bee that can be ‘kept.’ And the wonder of this fact should not be lost on the writers and readers of beekeeping books.”  
I relate. After a string of beekeeping failures, I stowed away my supers and frames in fall 2015 for the following growing season and forgot about apiaries.
When this February rolled around, I took my last jar of crystalized honey off my pantry shelf. My heart ached as I climbed the basement stairs and placed the jar on the kitchen register to liquefy.
March 28 I hightailed it to Seven Ponds Nature Center for the Beekeeping Club meeting. The room was packed with men and a modicum of women, all relaxing in chairs or leaning against walls, talking in low, drone-like voices. Not one cell phone in sight.
I had forgotten what gentle, present folk beekeepers are, and was glad to be back in their fold. I wondered again why men outnumbered women beekeepers.
We split into two groups: beginner and experienced. I followed the “new-bee” herd and remembered the excellent speaker from my first lesson. I took notes, bought Delaplane’s book, paid my $10 dues, and ordered three packages of bees.
At last, my soul was satisfied.
While I pruned lavender the next day with a friend and farmhand, I couldn’t control my excitement. “Mary Ellen,” I said, “I bought three packages of bees last night. Would you like a beehive in payment for today’s labor? We could bee-keep together here on the farm.”
Her face lit up. “I’d love that. I helped my dad with his bees. It’ll be like old times.”
Not a week later, I sat alone in the San Francisco Airport and awaited another delayed departure. Surrounded by a sea of people from every tribe and nation peering into diverse electronic devices, I nibbled on a handmade dark chocolate turtle and turned the last page of Delaplane’s Epilogue.
“Finally, the theory and practice of beekeeping is dynamic, not static. Our knowledge of bee biology and management grows exponentially with the passing of years. Read, attend bee meetings, share your knowledge, and strive to be a good citizen in the fraternity of beekeepers.”
Dear Reader, I perceive it is our common need to nurture living things that returns us to the hive come spring. It’s the prize of a bountiful draw of wholesome, golden honey that induces us to risk the cost of bees and suit up in sweltering heat.
Ah, yes, at the heart of it all, the idea of a “kept” queen and her brood is what our good citizens find irresistible. The wonder of this fact is not lost on this writer and reader.