By Denise Kingsley
I wish to share a sweet experience which recently took place in my courtyard villa. My husband and I have resided in the Village of Duval for seven years. I keep an organic garden, with fruit trees; persimmon, banana, fig, Meyer lemons, and blueberries, not to mention three ligustrums, a river birch, hollyberry trees and milk weed to feed the butterflies. A couple of years ago I noticed bee activity around the wall of my courtyard. The bees buzzed around the eleven butterfly chrysalis suspended at the entrance of their hives. Our rescued Greyhound, Tapper, my grandchildren, the butterflies and the bees all lived harmoniously. Never a sting.
In April, 2013, a swarm of bees began buzzing in front of my kitchen window, the next day I saw hundreds of dead bees in my backyard. I called the district office to alert them of a possible danger. I was informed that the workers had already alerted them in December 2012 and an exterminating service came to spray the bees. They made several holes in the exterior wall to spray the insecticide. Obviously it did not work. The queen bee remained inside the wall with her worker bees.
During my visits to the Farmers Market in Spanish Springs and Brownwood, I had the good fortune to speak with Scott Irving of Riverview Apiaries. He keeps more than 52 hives of bees in Lake Panasoffkee. I shared my story and asked him if he could remove and save my bees from another dose of insecticide. He assured me that he would be happy to come “free of charge.” When he heard that the bees lived inside the concrete wall, he did not want to damage The Villages property and advised me to check with the District Office. I drove my golf cart to the Bonita District Office. Lucky for me, I found an “eagle” who saw the intelligence in having a bee keeper remove the bees instead of paying a service to continue spraying in the hope that they would kill the queen bee. The District Office agreed to let Mr. Irving remove the top of the column in order to access the bees; they also agreed to repair the top of the column after the work was completed.
Of note, we cannot ignore the many articles about the plight of the honeybees, how the mass deaths in bee colonies may mean disaster for farmers and our favorite foods. Without honeybee pollination, the food we eat could decrease by one-third. Additionally, the monetary value of honey-bees as commercial pollinators in the United States is estimated at about $15-20 billion annually. I like to quote Einstein who said “watch the bees die, then man would die within a few years.” Ouch!
To appreciate the significance of honeybees in our lives, the following are some of the health benefits from eating raw honey:
*Builds up immune system from allergens.
*Balances blood sugar.
*Reduces blood pressure.
*Works as a cough suppressant.
*Assists with digestion.
*Improves bronchial asthma.
*Soothes sore throats.
*Can lower cholesterol.
*Helps with diabetes.
*Reduces aches from arthritis.
*Relieves acid reflex.
Monday afternoon, Dec. 2, Mr. Irving and his assistant arrived at my home with their suits and began to prepare the bee smoker to calm the honey-bees. Except for the removal of the wood top of the column, it was a smooth operation. The bees were unusually docile, and half dozen honeycombs oozing with raw honey were removed and handed to me. I felt like a kid in a candy store. They vacuumed the bees into boxes to take back to Lake Panasoffkee and I had enough raw honey to share with my friends and neighbors.
My intention in sharing this story is to inform my neighbors that we have a choice in helping to save our environment. If you see bee activity around your home, do not try to exterminate the bees yourself by using pesticides, call a professional beekeeper.
It is a win/win situation, the beekeeper inherits additional hives, the bees continue to pollinate so we can eat good food, The Villages saves money, and we breathe easier without added pesticides in our atmosphere.
I just love The Villages. Aside from all the perks I receive living here, the honeybees visited my backyard and gifted me with their delicious, nutritious raw honey! How sweet it is!
This is an excerpt from Denise Kingsley’s book, Amor Fati, a timeless memoir, Kingsley shares the true story of her years in Hotel Dieu (God’s Hotel) among the Grey Sisters in Quebec, Canada, and her unusual journey from abandoned orphan in the 1950’s to fulfilled American woman