I have been in mourning for a week. If I were of the Jewish faith perhaps I could say I am sitting Shiva. According to Sitting Shiva.com:
During the period of Shiva, mourners sometimes sit on low stools or boxes while they receive condolence calls. This is where the phrase “sitting shiva” comes from, and it is a practice that symbolizes the mourner being “brought low” following the loss of a loved one. For seven days, the family members of the deceased gather in one location – typically their own home or the home of the deceased – and mourns the loss in a variety of ways.
I mean no disrespect to Judaism, but silently sitting each day beside my hives, even for just a moment or two. Has allowed me to come to grips with the loss.
Sunday afternoon I spent several happy hours in the company of beekeepers. My mentor, Jodi, gave a class on Advanced techniques. Each participant introduced themselves and stated their goals for the up coming year. Mine was to split one of the hives and move two with me when I sell the house, leaving one for Wilson. The group was lively and we delved into whatever questions came to mind. We shared wins and losses, helpful hints and fears.
I came home super-charged for bee keeping armed with ideas and plans. The temps were mild so I stopped at the hives before going into the house. I just wanted a peek before suiting up and doing a mini-inspection. There were no bees flying, no sound when I rapped on the sides. Still hopeful, I parked in the garage and gathered a hive tool and went back out.
I wrestled with the tie-down straps and cracked open the top of my small hive. Dead. No comforting buzz, no movement. Bodies piled high. It was devastating. Moving quickly, I strapped it back up and opened the large hive. Same dead silence. Shaken and disbelieving I walked back to the house. It seemed if I just gave it a minute, time would reverse and they would be fine. Perhaps it wasn’t every bee? Maybe there were a few still deep in the hive?
My third trip out to look confirmed the complete loss.
Three weeks ago I had popped the tops of the hives on a mild day and they were chock full of busy ladies. Then we had a weekend where the temps dipped to 26° below 0 and the wind chill added another 20 degrees.
Could I start again? Of course. Is this a sign? As I work my mind around my next big move and therapeutic misadventure, I look for signs. Perhaps this is not the optimal spot for bees. I know I am a good caretaker of them, but maybe it is not the right place. Maybe a new home for the bees and me is in order.
For now, they stand as silent, tombstones. I grieve every time I glimpse them from the window or drive by. Poor bees…