Apiary Maintenance

I haven’t posted here in awhile because I am busy getting my bachelors degree in English Lit / Creative Writing, but here is a rough version of an essay that began as a short story. Let me know what you think WP!


Apiary Maintenance

It was a Saturday and I had been looking for books about beekeeping. I went into the library in a different town. I do this from time to time. I like to go to different libraries. They all have their own smell: The perfume counter at Macy’s, the city bus, must and fresh cut grass. After digging through the science section for a while, I found the perfect book. It looked about fifty years old, with yellow pages. It looked out of place. The cover was faded green with a broken golden hive: Apiary Maintenance. “Perfect”, I thought. I leafed through the book: The importance of proper coverage, of the queen to the apiary’s functioning and the difference between drones and queens.

In J.E. Cirlot’s A Dictionary of Symbols, it states that “In Greece it (the bee) was emblematic of work and obedeience” (Cirlot). Sidenote: Obedience.

I remember an article that I had read that was about perfect societies resembling a hive. Each individual part working for the betterment of the whole. I thought about how different that method was from how modern society is organized, at least in the land of rugged individualism, where settlement occurred because of torn roots. The land of competition.

Cirlot again: “In Orphic teaching, souls were symbolized by bees, because they migrate from the hive in swarms, since it was held that souls ‘swarm’ from the divine unity in a similar manner. Side Note: I have no idea what the ‘divine unity’ is, but I like that idea quite a bit, it reminds me of the interconnectedness of the species, from the tiniest bacteria to the fungi underneath the ground that spans continents.

I remember reading a Sylvia Plath poem and she talked about how her father was a beekeeper for a time. She remembered his white outfit, the cover that protected his face from stings. I have no idea why that image sticks out to me from that poem. Beekeeping seems to be about the control of nature, it’s been said that bee’s wont attack a person unless they feel threatened or if the hive has been compromised.

I remember getting stung by a bee in the first grade. I remember the sting being red, painful, the smell of tooth paste. I felt thankful that I wasn’t allergic and that the pain quickly subsided. I remember being very young and hearing a story about how my uncle Mike, my Dad’s older brother had been drinking a soda outside and as he was taking a big drink a bee was in the can and Mike was stung in the throat. Mike was allergic and that bee sting could have killed him, but it didn’t.

I have read of gardens in urban areas that double as apiaries and I believe that to be a practical way to incorporate the natural world with the stone landscapes that one might find in the city.

A symbol, an important part of planet earth, their industriousness, for their mystery, bees are enigmatic.

One day, when I am not busy, I think that I might take up beekeeping as a hobby. Alone in the apiary, my thoughts echoing off an incessant buzz, my covered hands searching in the dark for the sweet mana in the hive.


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