Archive for May 20th, 2011


This weekend I brought home enough hive bodies, honey supers, frames, lids and bases to outfit three new hives. My husband’s 30-year-old equipment is beginning to wear out and this stuff was new.

My mother took me to my grandparents’ farm, to the basement of the farmhouse where water is collecting from recent rains. In the puddles, stacked on pallets, are brand new hive bodies, honey supers, frames, lids and bases – painted in fresh paint, most unused. There are maybe 100 nucleus hives meant for catching swarms and raising queens.

The stacks of new equipment were the work of my father. At one time he kept more than 30 hives at that farm. His obsession is revealed in the basement. His attention to detail detailed by the fresh paint, 90 degree angles on frames, and the nails separating freshly painted hive bodies from freshly painted hive bodies – stacks upon stacks of never-used equipment.

About two years ago my father walked away from it all. Away from his wife, away from his children and grandchildren, away from the living bee hives that eventually died out, away from the freshly painted hive bodies meticulously stacked in the basement of the farm house.

I have not spoken to my father in over a year. I do not have his current phone number or address. I’ve heard he lives in Maryland.

My mother divorced him handily. From the outside, watching my mother divorce my father was a powerful thing to see. She was practical, methodical, dogged – as if she’d been waiting for this moment her whole life.

This weekend my mother and I decorated graves. We both have plans for Memorial Day, so we went a week early. She showed me the family graves and taught me to bring a dibble for “planting the flowers” if the ground is hard (It wasn’t; we needed muck boots to traverse the standing water). She talked about her divorce and told me family history I’d never heard.

From my father I have inherited an insatiable curiosity, a love for manual labor, and a desire to keep bees.

From my mother I have inherited a power that only women possess, deep roots, and desire to create family traditions.

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