Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Keeper...

Last night, after a frantic drive in an area that I am not familiar with, I pulled into the parking lot of a generic daycare that was absolutely packed with cars. A smiling man with a badge waved me on to the grass next to an ancient Ford truck. (I would so love a truck like that.)
I stepped out of my car and took a deep breath, clutching a yellow and black spiral bound notebook and pen. For the first time in almost 6 years, I had a class to be to.
I walked quickly to the front door. I had gotten lost on the drive, and didn't want to be late. On the glass there was taped a sign: "Welcome to Bee School."
Inside, there were more than 100 people. Some of them had generic name tags, which I was handed and told to write my name on. There were others milling around the edges proudly displaying tags that read "BEE MENTOR." How I wished I were already a bee mentor. They crossed my name off the list and handed me a "goody" bag. I wondered what you put in a goody bag for a beekeeping class?? Honey???
I peered inside hopefully and saw... stuff. A small rolled up bunch of burlap. A little stick. A big stick, cut in funny shapes. I smiled inwardly with the giddiness of the first day of class. I always get this same high from realizing that there are things that I don't yet know, but by the end of the class, I will know. And that makes me happy.
I looked around the crowded room and spotted an empty chair squeezed in between two other women. One of them looked kind of like me--the Mom type. Pink sweater. Inconspicuous earrings. The other woman looked like the Executive type. A bit intimidating. I slid into the seat and tried to make conversation with the Mom. She was rather cool, and gave short answers. When I asked her what brought her to learn about beekeeping, she arched one eyebrow and said "For personal reasons." I felt a bit rebuffed. Maybe we weren't supposed to make friends at Bee School.
I turned hesitantly to the Executive, and she gave me a broad smile. We had a warm conversation. Turns out that I was right--she is an executive at one of the big banks here. When I asked her why she was interested in beekeeping, she just laughed and said "I have no idea! It's just an itch I have to scratch." I loved her instantly.
The class started with a prayer to "God Our Father... er.... Or the Great Creator... whoever made the bees" and then launched into the lecture, and I furiously took notes. The history of bees. The earliest bees. The evolutions of beekeeping. Flavored here and there with stories from the teacher's own experience with his 50,000 bees. When he would go off on a story, I found lots of opportunity to look around the room and look at the kind of people who are interested in beekeeping.
Old Farmer types sat with slouched postures and closed eyes. A mom and dad with their son, who--from the disappointed look on his face, had hoped there would be honey harvesting at the first class. Lots of organic types with sigg bottles, short hair, and flowing clothes. An eclectic group.
The teacher emphasized very carefully the importance of being a bee KEEPER and not a bee HAVER. He said that if you have a hive of bees for only one year, then you are a bee haver. You don't care about your bees. They are a passing whimsy... nothing more. And he was scathing in his wrath for such people. "Bees are a GIFT and a BLESSING" he emphasized, "they are not here for your AMUSEMENT, so don't get them if you aren't prepared to take care of them and put up with them and get stung. A LOT."
A sobering point.
"But," he went on, "the thing you'll need the most to be a beekeeper is a love for it. And a love for them. For the amazing creatures that they are. That's what will make you a good beekeeper."
As I got in my car to drive home, that point was still in my mind.
I think that you could say much the same thing about children.
And I decided that I need to be a better childkeeper and less of a child haver.
Next week?? Building your hive!


  1. I'm jumping up and down and clapping my hands!

  2. so cool!! i am so excited for you to take this class.

    i love the idea of being a childkeeper. great food for thought. thanks!