“BEES BEES”

 I recently took up beekeeping for the first time…I received my package of bees and installed them in their new hive and started observing them daily.

The energy of the hive is amazing to watch, so many individuals but all working together as part of a colony.

It is a bit like Camp Kaniksu our summer nature connection camp.

The campers fly around, their energy building off of each other and learning each other’s ways.

At first the campers are a little unsure and cautious, but after no time at all they are playing and laughing together and watching out for one another. 

On the first day of camp we learned the difference between real hazards and perceived hazards.  There is often a lot of fear of nature that comes from the media or old stories people heard once upon a time.  We talk about wolves, snakes, spiders, bears, lightning, water, and bees and try and distill down what are real hazards to us in nature.  One of the big hazards I highlighted to the campers was the danger of stinging insects.  We played a game called hornets nest where they learned to react quickly to bees swarming up from the ground by running quickly away.  The lessons learned during the game would prove to come in handy during week 2.

Week two began with a focus on mammals and tracking.  We looked at different animal feet and learned how to tell different groups of animals apart by the number of toes on their front and back feet and whether they have claws or not.  Then it was time to go out in tracking groups and see what had been moving around and through the U of I property.  I was with some boys tracking down in a ravine when one of them stuck his finger in a hole in a tree, as you do when your 10.  Turned out to be a bees nest, for which he promptly received a sting on the end of his finger.  He responded with a massive bellow of, “BEES, BEES!”, and then flew past us like the wind.  His energy and bellowing, plus the whine of angry bees was instantly galvanizing. The boy standing next to me took one look at the distance across the creek and leaped 12 feet across and down to the other side.  Haley, another instructor, immediately followed his example and leaped as well.  I, however, have been learning to move slowly and easily around my bees at home, so I calmly glided away through the trees and escaped unharmed.  A bee sting though sometimes a little traumatic is also a gateway to connecting with nature by showing the wonderful healing power of the plant plantain.  A little bit of leaf chewed up and applied to the sting does wonders to neutralize the pain and the camper usually remembers the power of the plant more than the power of the sting.