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Our friend Annie, age thirteen, keeps bees. This is a fairly new project; just after Easter, having spent the school year engaged in bee research, she brought home her colony, buzzing furiously in a box on her lap, and established them in a little green glade in the woods around her house. Every day for the first few weeks she would don hat and veil and suit and go out to check the nectar level in their feeding bottle, until “the girls” learned the lay of the land and could feed themselves.

Recently, Annie told us, they’d experienced a crisis: the queen had disappeared. Annie’s mother speculated that she’d gone off in a carriage, carrying a purse and waving a gloved hand, for a better life with some handsome-but-feckless drone. Then we wondered whether maybe the colony had just gotten fed up and eaten her. At any rate, the people from whom Annie had gotten the bees in the first place sent her a replacement queen, and in the meantime, a kind neighbor had given her a frame of brood, ie a bunch of eggs, from his own hive, to supply her colony with workers until the new queen arrived, was accepted by the hive, and began laying.

The bee of course is a symbol of industry and order, which is why Utah, for example, is known as the Beehive State, after the industrious and orderly Mormons. Bees and honey recur throughout the Bible: in the name of Deborah the judge, in the diet of John the Baptist. Monasteries kept, and still keep, bees; so did the English clergyman with his country living.

So while beekeeping in and of itself is not an explicitly religious pursuit, to keep bees is to converse with tradition. And as our friend Annie says, it is awfully calming, which — all right, we’ll just take her word for it that meddling with hundreds of stinging insects is calming. She seems calm, anyway. And she hopes someday to sell honey and beeswax candles, to help her homeschooling family to be more self-sustaining.

Some beekeeping links, religious and otherwise:

The World History of Beekeeping, via Google Books

Beekeepers for Christ, an association of (surprise surprise) Christian beekeepers with a missionary bent

Heck if I know what a list of Christian one-liners is doing on a beekeeping site, but there you are. Apparently they’ve also got beekeeping supplies and protective clothing.

Instructional Beekeeping video, from a self-described “Christian Home Business.”

The Honey Hill Farm page features bee-related products and resources, plus a link to an Annie’s (not our Annie’s) “Bee An Internet Missionary” page.

Once again, I find myself having to assign a rating to a random-ish post with a miscellany of links. No offensive ties in this lot, however.

[Rating: 90/100]
I do like bees.

PS: My mother is visiting, and she and I are taking the children to the mountains for several days, so blogging here will be light this week. If, in our peregrinations, I see anything religiously intriguing, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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