[A Blog Post from John Mark Van Eerden]
This is a special report about a call for help from a friend. (And what happened afterwards.)
My friend discovered a swarm of bees had clustered on a small tree. Swarms usually occur when a prosperous hive divides due to overcrowding: half the colony following Her Majesty (the old “Queen Bee”) to a new home. But before they depart, there’s much to prepare. They give the “royal treatment” to an ordinary egg, creating a super larvae to serve as the heir apparent (the new queen) by feeding it royal jelly and grooming it for queenhood. Once the new queen emerges from that cup she stays to tend to the remaining hive.
The scouts apparently decided that Christ Covenant Church was a suitable place to congregate, as the scout bees searched for a final home. Unfortunately, the church voted against the decision.
So, as a church member and Beekeeper-Apprentice-In-Residence (thanks to my Uncle Scott and Mr. Jason Blalock), I was called upon to catch it. For more than an hour I carefully grabbed handfuls of bees, clad in an official Blalock beekeepers suit, putting each handful into a cardboard box for transport. Then I stopped and waited. I had put about three-quarters of the bees in the trap. If the queen, one of many thousands in the swarm, was among those I had moved, the rest would follow her into the box. And sure enough, the rest of the bees soon made their way from the tree to the swarm trap box I’d set in the back of my truck.
I drove them to the Homestead and nestled them into an empty beehive next to my current hive. All was well! I could feel my adrenaline coursing through my veins: it was my first swarm. I left them early in the evening and went to eat. At dusk, I went back to check on them.
The swarm was gone!
I searched via flashlight in the nearby trees for 10 minutes until I found them, “re-forming” on a like-sized tree. With help from my Uncle Scott, we moved it again and this time put the restless queen into a special chamber that prevented her from exiting the hive until it became established. Dad said it should be called the “Lady Jane Grey” strategy. It worked! The colony is now thriving, producing a beautiful hive bustling with busyness. In other words. they’re busy as bees, building a beautiful honeycomb and organizing a colony.
There’s much more to say about this. But, suffice it to say, the honey bee is a remarkable picture of the glory of God revealed in the things He has made. The Puritans called that aspect of divine revelation the “Magnalia Dei,” which is how my Mom and Dad got the idea years ago to name our little piece of earth Magnalia Homestead.
Hopefully, after reading this, you will never think about the words “queen bee” or “worker bee” (literally or metaphorically) quite the same — or the word “Magnalia.”
Indeed, “there is no shortage of wonders in the world,” as GK Chesterton used to say. “Only a shortage of wonderment.”
P.S. The bees are busy at the Homestead! Thanks to Uncle Scott, together with the poplars and blueberries and other such things here, their golden goodness is amazing. We package it up in old-fashioned, pint and quart-sized Ball jars, and affix to it (with love) a “Homestead Honey” label. You can pre-order a Quart of it at The Magnalia Store. It’s 100% guaranteed to bring you sweet gladness, and100% of the proceeds from your purchase benefit the work of Magnalia Homestead Foundation. Plus, if you’re within 25 miles, we’ll deliver it FREE.Make sharing easy!