The Queen Bee

Queen Bee

Nodding to a religious construct, I am joyfully writing during The Season of Mother’s Day. Or since the Hallmark date actually fell on 05/10/2020, perhaps numerology supersedes church calendar nomenclature this year.

The 2020 celebration of moms-and-all-nurturers may have been my favorite ever. First, I was feted gloriously on Saturday. We focused on my own mother on Sunday. Now that I’ve extended the honoring of maternal-like care to a whole season, we have until Pentecost Sunday or maybe even Father’s Day before we roll into the next holiday, sacred or secular, whichever’s your preference.

Alas, there has been the bloody overlay of COVID to deal with this year. We knew the usual delight of a restaurant brunch to salute our matriarch was out. Plus since our queen mum lives in an assisted living community, even giving chocolates or flowers was going to be more complicated. We were flummoxed about how to love-her-up this year.

My super-computer-savvy sister swooped in to save the day. In no time flat, Susan gathered short video clips from us so that she could compile a short show including all of our faces and messages.

Next question: How could we get this presentation to Mom? Yes, we had managed (with the help of staff members at her facility) one zoom get-together earlier in the month that included my 92-year-old mother. But on this busy Sunday, we thought assistance for electronic-hand-holding might be less available.

We do know Mom’s favorite gift is quality-time which, frankly, makes the ache of isolation along with her age-related frailty ever-so poignant. Maybe this would be her last Mother’s Day? We’ve done our level best to observe her home’s policy that only medical personnel can visit. Then we realized showing up during her daily walk outside might just work. Hooray, the wonderful folks at her building thought so too. It was really heartening to see our queen enjoy watching her drive-by “virtual hug.”

Next stop was Snohomish Bee Company. Long before the quarantine, my husband Rob had ordered two nuclei of honeybees—aka “nucs.” Picking them up on Mother’s Day was essential. Between the two of us, we were able to install these buzzers into their hives on the roof of our church.

Chief-beekeeper Rob explained in the Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral’s annual report, “For four years, the roof…has sported a small apiary of two to four bee hives, depending on the year. Our bees have the best view of the city as well as nectar from luscious [neighborhood] gardens plus blackberry brambles in the nearby greenbelt. While approximately 35 pounds of Holy Honey was harvested in 2019, our bees have yet to survive through the winter, requiring purchase of new nucs [each] spring. Honey in nine ounce jars was sold [last year and] we sold out quickly. Money from sales [was] used to buy [more] bees. … The well-being of our bees is a critical part of Creation. We seek your continuing prayers for the longevity of honeybees.”

I must admit that the bees have been his honeys. I haven’t considered myself a worker bee; I stand in the background applauding, giving support and encouragement (and lapping up the sweet goods). After all, along with our desire that the bees make it through the winter, Rob imagines building a team of volunteers to help. Recently though, due to this crazy virus and necessary social-distancing, we need to create new ways of operating on behalf of these little creatures. I am happy to step in as sous-apiarist and prayer-coraller. This includes asking for fond thoughts, good vibes, crossed fingers, metta, well-wishes, imaginings—whatever you call hopeful requests in your spiritual vernacular. Our bees will humbly relish all of your air care.

Standing in the middle of approximately 20,000 honeybees on Sunday, I simply wanted to tell of Mother Nature’s simplicity and magnificence. I could do nothing less. After all, long before any of this business about seasons or prayers or God was written down—thousands and thousands of years ago, in the days of the dinosaurs—Bees Existed. They and their descendants have been around practically forever. Together they work efficiently to create precisely-shaped honeycomb and heavenly honey.

It didn’t surprise me one bit that while Rob was maneuvering the last frame into place, he said calmly, in his mild-mannered way, “Look, Penny, there she is, the queen.”

Of course she’s there, directing and nurturing. In the grace of all that is, my honeybun found her amidst the perfect chaos. More flat-out encouragement. We must expect nothing less.


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