I am a laissez faire beekeeper – or – perhaps more accurately – a lazy fairy beekeeper. I am not worried about maximizing honey production, breeding queens with particular characteristics, or moving my bees from field to field as pollinators for hire. Although not opposed to taking a bit of honey now and again; I otherwise assume that bees know how to be bees better than I do – so bzzz and let bzzz.
Perhaps because of my Earth Mother leanings it is only natural that I have become a mentor for a local Montessori class of 4th – 6th graders. The Montessori philosophy: “To aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the basic task of the educator” (Maria Montessorri, http://www.alfredmontessori.com/montessori-philosophy.htm) is not terribly different from my beekeeping philosophy, granted, to a different end. I just want healthy bee colonies – not educated ones (to bee, or not to bee…).
So not too long ago I received an e-mail from a Montessori teacher asking if I’d help them as they venture into the world of beekeeping. Now I am no expert beekeeper. I’ve had hives only since 2009. I explained my philosophy, my l limited knowledge, my newbee status. Jane still wanted me to be their mentor.
We opened a couple of hives – just took the lids off – it was only in the 40’s and I’m still concerned the bees got too chilled. We looked at my Langstroth vs. my topbar hive. It isn’t much of a comparison at the moment. The topbar bees absconded this summer. Can’t blame them, with a severe drought and not much nectar, they were having a heck of time building comb. I hope they found a happy place.
I don’t know how I’ll do as a mentor, I suspect I’ll learn more than the students, and about more than just bees. I’ll keep you posted.