On August 21, as part of International Honey Bee Day, several local beekeepers took a single frame observation hive to a local farmers' market. Two bees hitched a ride by ‘hiding’ in the air ports on either side of the hive,
and on arrival they walked around the glass trying to find an entry point. No one seemed bothered by their presence so we let them be.
Soon there was a young lad - my guess would be that he was about 6 - gently persuading
one of those bees to climb on to his hand, from which it walked up and over his arm. Standing beside him I asked how many legs, wings, eyes, she had, after which the question was, “Why is she not scared of you?” “Because
I’m so still,” he answered.
He wasn’t exactly still but his movements were slow and careful, and we had a chance to talk about pheromones, even if that was not the terminology we used.
an older man, perhaps in his 30’s, watched in amazement from the other side of the table. “I’ve always been afraid of bees,” he said, “and normally I would be running as far away as I could. Do you think a bee would
stay on my hand?”
Gently, we moved the second bee on to the back of his hand and she crawled up his well-tattooed arm.
He was grinning from ear to ear as he described the sensation of those
six legs on his arm. For several minutes he watched, and smiled, and beamed, and then gently and proudly returned her to the outside of the hive.
There was so much happening here, besides the example of a child overcoming
the life-long fear of an adult. How often do we sanitize our environments ‘just in case?’ What might we have missed if all the bees had been brushed off before the observation hive left the apiary? Or if, on seeing those
two miscreants, we had disposed of them ‘in case someone got stung?’
Sometimes unpredictability, uncertainty and insecurity are, within reason, vital aspects of significant learning. I recall reading more than
fifty years ago, in a book about revolutions (the title escapes me,) that most significant historical discoveries were not the intended result at the outset. Call it serendipity, an open mind, fortuitousness … I’ll expand in a later
column. For this month I don’t want to detract from the joy of this little victory on International Honey Bee Day.