Finally, finally, when I wander through the garden, I hear the sound of Bees. For a long while, they were conspicuous by their absence. Even though the weather was warm periodically, the Bees didn't trust it...and stayed warm.
I had heard stories of the disease that had struck the Honey Bee, stories of whole hives being wiped out by it. Stories of more than 50% of hives destroyed. I felt anxiety, this Spring, when no bees arrived; I searched for reasons. Was it the building going on next door? For awhile, the birds were gone, too, as a result of the noise of construction.
I ran across a quote from Albert Einstein...“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the
globe, then man would only have four years left to live.”
It hurts and frightens me, deep in my Heart and Soul, when I think of no Bees, no companionable buzzing amongst the flowers. I wondered, for a long time, this Spring, where our Bees were...not even the Mason Bee showed when the Plum tree blossomed. I was worried about our Apple Tree, but Comfrey came into bloom...and suddenly, the buzzing of the Bee once more became background music.
And then, the Raspberry patch bloomed...and the hum grew louder, deafening me as I walked past. All types of Bees were busily at work; from the bumbling Bumblebee to the Honey Bee, a few Wasps as well...and many Mason Bees. All found their flying becoming labourious; their legs were a deep golden orange from their stash of pollen.
But they carried on. Grabbing each and every morsel of pollen to finally trundle off back to their hives, I could see the distraction each and every bloom in the garden gave...how they would detour, even as loaded as they were...to taste one more time.
Bees remind me of Aristaeus, of Greek lore. Born the son of Apollo and a mortal woman Kyrene, he was given to Mother Nature who fed him on nectar and ambrosia. He was educated by the Dryads who taught him the practical arts...how to curdle milk for cheese, build bee-hives, and cultivate olives.
When Aristaeus reached maturity, he was taught by the Muses to heal and prophesy; he learned to hunt whilst watching over their sheep on the Plain of Phthia. He consulted the Delphic Oracle of his father, the Sun God Apollo, and was told to visit Keos. While there, he ousted murderers who secretly lived amongst the inhabitants, who were suffering a plague. He killed the murderers, saved the people, and was greatly honoured.
But it seemed this was all in a day's work for Aristaeus. He continued his humble way across the countryside, visiting communities which had further tasks for him to fulfill, no matter how small.
He is considered the savior of Bees. At Tempe, all the Bees began to die; Aristaeus consulted his mother, who told him to capture Proteus, an old Sea-God. He was to force Proteus to tell him the reason for the Bee's demise.
Apparently Aristaeus had a romantic tryst somewhere, during his travels, which resulted in the woman's accidental death. Aristaeus was being punished; he made amends by offering various sacrificial beasts to the angry deities. Out of the rotting carcasses, a swarm of Bees arose, which he captured and placed carefully, with his knowledge of Bees, into a hive...thereby assuring the Bee's survival.
He continued on, eventually founding the city of Aristaeum, where he died, honoured for his wisdom.
Aristaeus is the lover of the countryside, friend to all Beings. To him, no task is too much or too little, if it furthers and serves the life of Mother Nature. He is kind and dependable, working long hours without much reward for matters concerning him. He will do any task assigned him impeccably, firmly ensconced in the ordinary tasks of life.
He's not greatly glamourous. Aristaeus is capable of huge contentment...whatever he achieves is always realistic, logical, and with humble aims. He is not out for pretensions of divinity.
And neither are the Bees. When Bees are everywhere, it is easy for me to forget how integral they are to our very Being. But their absence this Spring spoke louder than any front page news.
But today, this warm, sunny day, they are out in full force, buzzing from Clematis to Viburnum to Comfrey to Chives...on and on, ever more pollen enticing them, their duties seemingly so tiny in Mother Nature's scheme of things.
Aristaeus knew better.
I am learning the same.