6.11.2011

Bee Cult

You can't talk to us without getting an earful about bees.

My dad, who owns this apartment building, didn't freak out when he found out about the hives on his roof (through my blurting sister, thank you). If one of my kids stuck thousands of stinging insects on my property without mentioning it, I don't think I would have been half as graceful. Being a retired engineer, he asks questions, brings us bee articles he's clipped out of his newspaper (we don't get why he reads dead trees and he doesn't get why we don't) and proves he's used to tolerating things he doesn't understand.

My mom, they're long divorced, took a different route. The more we talked about the bees, the more she got sucked in, listening like when Seventh Day Adventists come to your door and you happen to be in a conversational mood. Pretty soon it all makes a lot of sense and, at least while they're smiling and talking back, you decide you, too, want to be one of the saved.

Bees being natural, she might have been predisposed. Her mother, my grandmother, had such a colorful, beautiful garden that people driving by would stop and take pictures of it. As a kid, I thought she was famous. She was in that garden, talking to her flowers, more than she was inside. That's how I was able to easily sneak all her candy.

My mom's garden is even better, because you can eat it. The best lemons ever made into bars happen to grow outside her bedroom window. I hated tomatoes until she convinced me to taste a little yellow pear-shaped one she picked for me. Even though I still prefer chocolate, that tomato was as close to candy as you can get - if candy grew on vines. Why doesn't candy grow on vines? Monsanto, stop being evil and work on that, please. I have to control myself when she's not looking and her peas are ripe. I'd eat them all, even after dessert.

Soon, my mom asked us if she could have a hive trap and try to catch a swarm. "There are millions of bees in my yard already," she said. "We might as well catch a few and share their honey." With that, I knew she was in the cult, one of us. 

Charlie didn't need to be asked twice. We came down to her house on a steamy hot, 90+ degree day, brought along Dylan and Michelle to share her pool, set up a hive trap and hoped for the best.
She called after a week, leaving a message saying there are millions of bees flying like a black cloud, all trying to get into the hive. "I'm watching them now," she said, sounding like a little kid in a candy factory. "It's incredible." 
When we called her back, she was still watching. "It looks like there is a really big, long bee, right in the middle of the swarm," she said. "Is that another type of bee? What is that?"
Only my mom would be so lucky to see the queen.