Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Who Stings the Honeybee?

Our youngest grandson got stung the other day, running through the yard (he's fine--it hurt, but there were no ill effects). Charlie said, "I wish I knew what it was that stung him. If it was a honeybee." "Oh," I said, "wouldn't that be wonderful?"

My husband and I kept bees for two years. Everything bad that could happen to bees happened to ours, with the exception of a raid by bears. Our hive was where the souls of bad bees went when they died. Our hive was what mama bees threatened their little bees with to make them behave. We finally gave our now-empty hive away. A few months later, a storm took down a tree, which fell directly across the placed where our hive had been.

Honeybees aren't native to North America; they came over with settlers from Europe. Almost all the honeybees here are kept. A nasty little customer called the varroa mite pretty well wiped out all wild honeybees--any many of the kept ones--right about the time we tried to establish a hive.

The Beekeeper's Lament by Hannah Nordhaus fills you in on the world of bees and beekeeping. It sounds like a snoozer, but it's a wonderful book, beautifully written, and gives a real feel for the practicality and goofiness of those of us who love bees.

Another book about bees I love, and possibly more appropriate to this site, is Frank Parrish's Sting of the Honeybee, a Dan Mallet mystery. I won't tell you anything about it except that Dan Mallet, an ex-banker who gave up a lucrative career to come home and take care of his ailing Mum, and who is saving up money for her hip replacement by poaching, runs afoul of a heartless criminal. Bees help. I'm usually not a fan of criminals as heroes, but I make an exception for Dan. Mostly.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

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