By Sarah Meyer, Beekeeper and Owner of Worker’s Ransom Honey
Throughout the winter, beekeepers know how to stay busy! Work that must be done includes preparing for spring by painting boxes, prepping spring feed, ordering bee colonies, purchasing seeds for their pollinator gardens, and attending beekeeping meetings to share all the teaching and lessons that might be helpful for the coming beekeeping season. One other major thing I am doing as I look out my window to single-digit temperatures, falling snow, and the howling wind is … hoping and praying, even manifesting, that my hives are still alive.
I don’t think I am the only beekeeper doing this. Amidst the coldest of days, whatever their spiritual orientation, beekeepers start to downright pray; manifest positive vibes into the universe; and cast pure hope out into the world that their hives are surviving winter.
For me, my first chance of hope is set on Punxsutawney Phil. It’s not like I put all my eggs in the Farmer’s Almanac’s basket, but I was rooting for Phil to have persistent obliviousness on February 2. If he had only been blind to his own shadow, we would be welcoming an early spring and that would have been a saving grace to my hives. Unfortunately, it is now predicted that winter will be staying with us for at least another six weeks, until around March 16.
We are just two weeks into that extension of winter and I am at the point of sending prayers for my hives to survive to those patron saints that are most busy in their afterlife at this time of year—Saint Valentine, Saint Ambrose, Saint Gobnait, Saint Bartholomew, and Saint Gregory—the patron saints of bees and beekeepers. Some patron saints are associated with the opening of flowers, summoning bees to nectar, curing ailments with honey and wax, and even successful mead making, but Valentine’s Day seems to be an ideal time for calling on St. Valentine, with his spiritual responsibility to not only watch over the lives of lovers but to also ensure the sweetness of honey and protection of the beekeeper.
While awaiting answered prayers, I begin to manifest with the Law of Attraction, using the approach that if I think my hives are, and will remain, alive, they will be. If I believe 100% that my hives are alive and well, the universe will make it so. If all of my thoughts, vibrations, and emotions are focused on my hive’s strength and endurance to survive, I will attract that state of well-being to my hives. That seems like a lot of “ifs” but when aligned with my prayers and hope, there could be a chance!
In light of all my calls out to St. Valentine, my hopes for Phil, and visualizations of live hives this month, I draw upon a story of love, honey, and a bee sting that shows how winter beekeeping parallels the love for anything. In Roman mythology, Cupid, the god of love and desire, stole honeycomb from a beehive and brought it to his mother Venus, dripping in honey and complaining of the defensive swarm of bees that gave him stings all over his chubby body. Venus’s reply, written by the Greek poet Theocritus, was “Are you not just like the bee—so little yet able to inflict such painful wounds?” Later Cupid was said to dip his “love arrows” in honey, and speak with a “honey-sweet” tongue to sweeten the deal of being love-struck.
The moral of the story—you can’t have the love, honey, or the sweet side of beekeeping, without the danger of being “stung”, the pain of hive loss, or unanswered prayers. You can’t have the beauty and life of spring without the darkness and death of winter.
Even when the deal is “sweetened”, the prayers, hopes, and vibes ensure mindset, successes, and the sweet life of beekeeping, but always there will be losses or a “sting” to bear that necessitates being viewed through the lens of blessings and thanks in Spring.
Sarah A. Meyer is the beekeeper and owner of Worker’s Ransom Honey based in Geneva. She set up her first hive in 2014 and now sells honey from bees pollinating the Finger Lakes region. You can learn more about Worker’s Ransom Honey by reading about Sarah’s beekeeping adventures shared in her monthly From the Hive column and on social media @workersransom on Facebook and @workersransomhoney on Instagram. You can find Worker’s Ransom products at five retail locations in the Geneva area and a few of them offer online ordering and gift baskets. These include the Finger Lakes Welcome Center in Geneva, Bostrom Farms in Stanley, Monaco’s Coffee in Geneva, FLX Goods in Geneva, and Red Jacket Orchards Farmstore in Geneva. Contact Sarah via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.