Here’s a tender scene, grandson learning bee culture from his grandfather who is a beekeeper. This new painting is companion to last year’s On the Road that featured the boy’s sister walking a country lane beside a loyal and loved black dog named Shadow.
Details of Time and Place
For this new painting both mother and grandmother shared ideas so The Beekeepers could convey uniquely personal details of time and place. The boy has his toy tractor in hand. Water drains from the sump into a bowl, then overflows into a rivulet. Grandfather places his hand on the boy’s back directing him toward the bees, and the boy mirrors that sweet acknowledgement laying his hand upon his grandfather’s neck. Rafts of forget-me-nots peek through the grass.
In this and the earlier painting both children are barefoot on a hot summer day. Each is engaged in a joyful moment that becomes a favorite memory. Companion paintings of brother and sister now hang side by side, gifts to celebrate fleeting days of childhood. Tiny blue flowers remind them and all of us to remember the happy times.
Bearding the Hive
Look toward the lower hive. See the bees and notice how they’re amassed on the outside. In apiary (bee) science this phenomenon is known as bearding the hive. In very warm or humid weather clusters of thousands of bees fan their wings to create a flow of air through the hive thus ventilating and cooling it. The bees threaten no one; their behavior is entirely normal, a sign of good health in the hive.
Letting bees collect on your face!
What a surprise to learn that ages ago bee bearding was a common practice among beekeepers—to attract bees to their own bodies rather than the bees’ own instinct to gather on the hive. This practice demonstrated rapport between beekeepers and their insects. It still occurs in some places when a caged queen is tucked under the chin to attract bees to form a bee beard for ritualistic or other reasons. Massed on the face in weighty thousands they look for all the world like a real beard.
The phenomenon was even featured on the The Simpsons. In New Kid on the Block Grandpa Simpson wears a fifteen pound bee beard, “ . . . for that woman, but it just wasn’t enough.” And in Burns and the Bees a queen bee stings Lisa releasing pheromones that attract thousands of bees to her face. Check it out!