Category Archives: beekeeping

Beekeeper Poetry

I like to write poetry.  I don’t do it very often, but sometimes a phrase comes to my mind and a poem quickly evolves.  I usually don’t have a defined topic in my mind.  Instead words and phrases rain down like blocks falling from a Tetris game, and I just try to organize them in a way that fits.

Yesterday was an upside down day.  We received about 3 inches (~8 cm) of heavy, wet snow.  This is how my front flower bed looked one day prior to the snow.

This is what the vegetable garden looked like one day later.

The only creature happy about this development was my dog Forte.  The bees were not happy.  The cabbage plants and Brussel sprouts were not happy.  The cherry tree and phlox were not happy, and neither was I.  Perhaps it was from this vortex of emotions that this poem evolved.

I should write one cautionary note before sharing my poem.  This poem is not autobiographical, and I am not contemplating death.  I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea especially since my last post was about depression.  (You can read that post by clicking here.)  The only line that is a true reflection of my feelings is the line about humans being taxing.  Everything else is about a fictitious beekeeper who is reaching the end of a long life well lived.

A Beekeeper's Goodbye

He asked:
What shall we do to honor you when you have left this plane
and are gathered to your people now free of Earthly chains?

Shall we make expansive speeches filled with solemn words
or sing a round of sacred hymns played in the minor chords?

Shall we place your name on buildings and write your name on plaques
so you will always be remembered by those who walk your paths?

Shall I write for you a poem to honor you with verse
or hire a team of Lippizans to pull along your hearse?

I said:
I know you speak with kindness but your offers make it clear
we walked through life together buy you didn’t really hear.

I want no recognition or the stuff that comes from fame.
I don’t need the howls of mourners echoing my name.  

I want only for a sunny day when I am laid to rest.
Let the birds and flowers shepherd me into my final nest.

Human beings are taxing and filled with selfish needs.  
The time I was the happiest was the time I spent with bees. 
-	K. L. Ackley 2021

The Arrival of Spring

“Have you been vaccinated yet?” I don’t recall a more frequently asked question since, “Do you know who shot JR?” I haven’t been vaccinated yet because it isn’t my turn. If Dolly Parton can donate $1,000,000 to develop a successful vaccine and still wait her turn, then so can I. Because I haven’t been vaccinated, I continue to avoid crowded spaces and stay mostly at home, which is why the arrival of spring is even more anticipated this year. The humans and the dogs in our house prefer to be in the yard more than inside the house. When the snow is on the ground, the dogs mope around the house and sigh deeply as if their lives are miserable.

Forte and Carmen get bored staying inside during the winter.

Every day in late winter I study the ground to see what has sprouted. The winter aconite is always first to bloom.

Honey bee foraging on winter aconite

On warm days I watch the bees go in and out of the hives. The ground still looks mostly brown and devoid of wild flowers. My flower beds have a few early crocuses, and the daffodils just started blooming. The bees are managing to find pollen, probably from maple trees, and are bringing it back to the hives. We lost one hive this winter. We don’t know why the bees died. They were alive the prior week. The bees may have frozen, but we are just guessing at this point. Bee autopsies are problematic to perform. For those keeping track at home that makes 5 out of 6 hives with bee colonies. Next month Doug plans to split the existing hives, so we should be able to grow our apiary this year.

Doug is building 2-frame hive boxes to start new colonies. We will know that spring has taken hold when Doug decides to shave the winter beard.
This bee has full pollen baskets and is coming back for more crocus pollen.
Daffodils bloom in all sorts of forgotten places and serve as living monuments to past people and events.

I have all my garden seeds this year and have already started some plants under grow lights. Radish seeds have been direct sown into the garden and have sprouted. I’m anxious for peas. We canibalized old fence panels for the pickets, which will be excellent supports for pea trellises.

Forte is always happy to drop his ball in the work zone.

Carmen is grateful that the ground has thawed and she can resume her excavation of mole tunnels. Carmen is teaching me not to be so focused on accomplishing spring tasks and to be more focused on enjoying the sunshine. Her favorite napping spot is beneath the willow tree. Every time I see her there I can expect to have the old folk song “Bury Me Beneath the Willow” in my head for the rest of the day.

Carmen prefers napping outdoors.

Hopefully the sun is shining where you are and you will have an opportunity to receive your vaccination soon. I would very much appreciate your input on what you would like me to write about next. Here are some of the posts I considered writing:

  1. Using Dogs and Gardens to Fight Depression
  2. How I Plan to Eat 40 Pumpkins in One Year
  3. Vegetable Academy Awards (aka – What I am planting in my garden this year)
  4. My Wash and Wear Dog – Carmen’s Story
  5. Splitting Bee Hives to Grow Your Apiary
  6. Why I Deleted Social Media Apps from My Phone

Finally, in case you didn’t know it already…….It was Kristin. Kristin shot JR.