Fuzzy black and white bee jettisoning across the void between two bright magenta flowers


I'm going to get some bees!

I've had this idea for awhile, since I moved. The yard is overflowing with gorgeous rosebushes, hydrangeas, lilac, peonies, juniper, a handful of fruit trees, and a walnut tree or two. I have to admit that none of these are my doing, and came with the house. The idea of becoming a proficient gardener sounds magical and would be an amazing food source, but I am new to gardening, and a family of groundhogs ate my entire vegetable garden at the end of May. I've been sulking about it for a couple of months.

The groundhogs also came with the house, and they are wily, beefy bubbas. They look like small teddy bears from a distance and will give you such grief if you come any closer that it's best to just let them gallop off with your squash, unless you have an actual strategy to get it back. They live in the enormous wood pile that I have yet to resolve, and feast upon anything potentially edible. I'll try again next year.

But back to the bees. I bought some beeswax from an Etsy shop last year around the end of fall to make some beeswax candles to go in my jars, and I loved the project! I made around 20 candles or so, all of which found homes in a surprisingly short span.

The cool thing about a ceramic lidded candle jar is that you can snuff the candle by putting the lid on the jar. The flame dies immediately, and no smoke is released into the room. When the candle is all gone, you can use the jar for whatever you want, including another lovely, golden, beeswax candle.

The porcelain clay I work with is also translucent, which makes it perfect for making luminaries and lamps of all kinds. Why not have my own bees, and my own wax, so I can always have candles to put in my jars and lamps? 

Well, there are actually many reasons. Bees are living insects, equipped with stingers, and they need things. After owning long-haired rabbits for nearly a decade, I must grudgingly admit that I don't always give the creatures that need me the attention they deserve. Bees will not spontaneously generate a thick wad of carpet on their butts when left alone for a month. They probably prefer that humans ignore them altogether. However, they also struggle with mites and disease. They need proper accommodations, and must be occasionally monitored with the right equipment by someone who knows what the heck they're looking at. If I'm going to be a beehive parent, I want to do my very best. And so it seems like a really intimidating project---- and a significant commitment--- to tack on right now.

Fortunately, bees are needed in the world, to pollinate. I would be helping a small amount by having a couple hives. I have the space, I have the plants, I need the wax, I love honey, and I love that bees are fuzzy and yellow and hum around. I love to make jars, and creating a source for a natural, consumable product that could go in those jars could be amazing. I love the orange-yellow wax and how it smells, and vastly prefer a beeswax candle to candles made with paraffin or soy. Candles make me feel cozy, safe, and connected to myself, and in the darkest season of this cold part of the world, I feel that they are essential. 

So, I have convinced myself, and the project is now in its pre-funding stages, as soon as I finish paying off my braces. I am making a series of unusually flat porcelain boxes that look a little like bees, and if they come out well, I will put them up for sale and then stash any royalties away for some baby bees. In the meantime, I will make a couple more candle jars with beeswax acquired elsewhere, read some beekeeping books, and dream a little more.


(photo by Stephen Dalton, screenshot from the National Geographic website)

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