“There” I said, “That’s about all we can do.” I corralled the last remaining honeybee onto the sheet of paper from the rooftop in which we stood, and gently shook it over the hive. A client of mine and I had just spent the last 15 minutes combining two nucs into one hive. It was windier and colder than I would have liked, but as it was late in the Fall, I didn’t want to risk another week to go by. As the last worker fell on top of the inner cover I said, “It’s almost like finding a bird with a broken wing, or a baby rabbit that you try to nurse back to health, but at the end of the day Nature is going to do, what Nature does. It’s a hard lesson to learn.”"At least we tried” my client said, “We showed compassion.” I reflected about that statement as I grabbed the outer cover and prepared to place it back over the inner cover.
“I guess it’s a lesson I really never want to truly learn. The moment that I admit that Nature is going to win out regardless of what I do in some respects. Even though that’s the case. You know?” The last words were a mix of a plea and of a beekeeper seeking affirmation. My client nodded approval, and seemed to understand my reasoning, but I pressed on. “I think the moment I lose compassion is the day I need to stop being a beekeeper. When I slam on an inner cover and squish a bunch of bees, and don’t feel bad about it, that’s the day I need to give it up. Because let’s face it these are animals that have been taking care of themselves for thousands of years. We are just inserting ourselves into their natural process. But it’s our job as a beekeeper to help them out. To try and save them, make them healthy when sick, and keep them as strong as possible so that they can do it all again come next Spring.”
I have a favorite verse of mine and it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself religious or not, I think it’s a solid bit of advice and applicable to beekeepers.
‘We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know suffering produces perseverance, perseverance hope; and hope does not disappoint us.’
-Romans 5:3 or thereabouts