I often get asked what the deal is with my honey bee “obsession.” Why have so much love and fascination for these creatures that generally scare the shit out of people?! I have one single honey bee tattooed on me so far, but no ever mentions the other creepy crawlies. I guess those are just “cool tattoo images” so no need to think twice. Here’s the deal…
My maternal grandfather, one of my personal heroes and someone I think about every single day, was a US Navy and US Army veteran. After his active duty, he was head of Weights and Measures as a key Astrophysicist at White Sands Missile Range in White Sands, NM.
After retirement, when all us ankle biters came along, he found some kind of personal joy and peace at his large, hand built bee hive. I will never know his motivation for building the hive, but as a young girl it was a grand, masterful image I had of my grandpa and his honey bees. He harvested his own honey and at a certain age we all learned how to approach the hive with calmness, patience and respect. I romanticized the story, believing this must be why the bees would share their honey and not sting us.
The rest of the yard was filled with our communal picnic area, play area, small crops, a rose garden, mini apple orchard, a giant pecan tree, and a wood shop. These days spent with my grandpa were some of the most fulfilling and joyous days I have ever spent, and probably ever will in my lifetime.
All of these plants, flowers and fruit bearing trees that colored our childhood were kept alive and thriving by my grandpa’s hives and all the thousands of buzzing honey bees. The honey he harvested for us was unlike anything you would ever experience, unless you took it out of the hive yourself.
Collecting even the smallest piece of honey comb myself, under his guidance, remains one of my greatest personal victories. I was about 6 years old.
Grandpa died the following year, and after a bit of time, the family decided his hive could not stay with us. This peace and happiness he shared with us remains a bright halo in some of my darkest times.
To this day I will never swat at or harm a bee, and still have not been stung. Every now and then one will land on my hand or arm and I smile with a bit of sadness.
I Love You Always GBA