Friday, May 16, 2008

The Queens have arrived

Are you a corn chandler or a baker of holy wafers? If so, today is the feast of your patron saint: Honorius of Amiens.
Reine and CSB have told me that this blog is already a little heavily freighted with the saint-stuff. So I will try to limit myself.
But how can I resist also mentioning Saint Simon Stock who lived inside a hollow oak tree? Could you resist mentioning that?

The Queens arrived today.
There is something wonderful and fraught with expectation about queens arriving: five new queens – already mated, chock a block full of drone sperm – each in her little queen box with her coterie of attendant nurse bees, there to feed her, groom her and eat their way through the sugary stopper at one end of their little cage and so be released into the hive, her new home. They are delivered by Express mail, in a padded envelope labeled LIVE BEES that the post office has graciously (Anxiously? Leerily?) put inside a large mesh polypropylene bag labeled: CABBAGES.

A few years ago in Egypt, I asked a man we were visiting what he knew about beekeeping in the countryside. He was silent for a while and then told me that his grandfather kept bees to pollinate his orchards along the Upper Nile. He remembered going to the train station with his grandfather one to day to pick up the Italian Queen. He said his grandfather was excited beyond anything he had ever seen. The train pulled in, and amidst all the smoke and steam, the conductor handed his grandfather the precious package. He showed his grandson, now the old man I was speaking with, and said reverentially: This is an Italian Queen. She is beautiful. The old man modulated his voice to duplicate his grandfather’s tones.

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