As I write this, the world is gripped by the specter of the novel coronavirus – COVID-19. Right now, over 215,000 people worldwide have been infected and almost 8,000 have died from it. In the U.S., the number of cases and deaths are beginning to ramp up. People are being asked to practice “social distancing” – avoiding direct contact with people. In several states, restaurants are closed for dining in (which affects my son who manages a restaurant in Denver, and my other son who is a waiter in a restaurant in Washington). Colleges and universities have closed their dorms and suspended in person classes – moving to on-line teaching. I’m expecting my son’s in-person college graduation in May to be cancelled.
So what does this all have to do with beekeeping? Well, I’m finding that beekeeping is the perfect pastime for someone who needs to keep away from people. It’s something that can be done on your own, away from others because most people don’t like being around a hive of stinging insects. An introvert’s dream job!
Right now is one of the busiest times for beekeepers. The queens are starting to ramp up laying worker eggs and making drones for the new queens to mate with. Beekeepers are busy getting equipment ready for the new season – building hives, making frames, cleaning equipment. In a few weeks, swarm season will start.
I’m forced to telework from home during this crisis, but I see this as an opportunity. I’m saving an hour and a half each day not having to commute to work. I don’t have the optimal desk setup at home so need to take frequent breaks for my back and wrists. What can I do with that spare time? Tend to the bees in my backyard! It gets me out in the fresh air, away from people. And with my veil on, I can’t touch my face! And most important, I get to commune with my bees which takes my mind off the problems in the world and opens up a world of fascination.
So in reality, beekeeping during a pandemic is no different than regular beekeeping for the most part. It will probably mean that we can’t do hive tours (depending on how long the “social distancing” lasts) and several state beekeeping meetings probably won’t happen. But we can still make sure our bees are well, catch swarms and process honey – all to make the world a sweeter place.
I don’t want to make light of the seriousness of the pandemic. But I do hope that you can find some things to be grateful for during this upheaval. Besides bees, we are focusing on doing yoga and meditation and saying healing mantras for the world. This is going to get worse before it gets better. Please take some time to stop, be present and breathe in the beauty that still exists in the world.