Last week David and I went into the hive and realized something was very wrong. There were fewer bees in the hive than there should have been, and less honey, too. We carried on with the chores, repaired the cross combs that were attached to the bar diagonally and cleaned up the floor of the hive that had suffered the invasion of ants and earwigs. In an effort to help them in their honey production we put down a patty of concentrated pollen (pollen pack) and closed the hive. We were concerned, but hadn’t considered losing them.
It is a practice for me to watch the bees. I love seeing them busy in the hive, and will often go to the observation window to see them hard at work. But the day after the hive maintenance, I went to watch them as usual, and there was no activity. After the loss of our hive in New Hampshire I tend to be a bit overprotective of the bees, so when I didn’t see any activity, I went closer. Sure enough, there were no bees to be found. The bustling hive was empty except for a few confused bees that were still looking for their colony.
Initially, I felt the same sadness and loss I had felt last spring. However, soon after that, my emotions shifted. I started to feel a sense of relief and confidence. I looked into my heart and found no regrets. Nature’s brilliance covered this situation for me. The bees knew that the hive was failing and that the fall and winter were slowly coming, and without an abundant honey supply they would not survive. Time was ticking away and they needed to establish a healthy hive soon. I had created a plan to support the bees, and with the great help of David, who, by the way, became the primary beekeeper, I knew we had done the best job we could do. The only thing I had to reconcile in this situation was the understanding that I had done all I could to help them, and to the best of my ability, I felt I had.
So often when the best-intended plans fall apart, we are struck with a sense of failure. And yet, isn’t defeat the very nature of life? Not all plans work out—in fact, many don’t. In order to transform failure into learning, all we have to do is trust that we have put our best foot forward.
Later that weekend, David and I cleaned out the hive and got rid of the beautiful combs that had become a new home for ants and earwigs. We packed up all our bee gear and reflected on how much we had learned from the bees. We both agreed to attend bee school this coming year, and to find a local bee community so our next colony of bees could thrive. The bees taught us perseverance, and with no failure in hand, we will start again in our effort to help save the bees.
It’s occurred to me that with the best intention in my heart there really isn’t any failure at all.