Thursday, May 15, 2008

Will they swarm?

The annals of hagiography contain several sainted married couples (Sts Amator and Martha; St Ethelreda -her sisters were names: Ethelberga, Withberga and Sexberga - and the long-suffering Egfrid, St Hedwig and more) who forswore sex, either before ever having it or after procreating the requisite number of offspring. I have never ceased to find this a strange phenomenon. But a Buddhist couple in Arizona has taken this a step further. Not only are they chaste but also they are never farther apart than 15 feet. Also, they eat off the same plate and read the same page of the same book at the same time. The logistic problems that come to mind are myriad.
On a more cheerful note, today is the feast of Saint Dymphna. Saint Dymphna lost her head somewhere in the middle of the seventh century after Christ. She was the daughter of an Irish king who, after the death of his beloved wife, conceived an incestuous passion for his daughter. In order to escape from his advances, Dymphna and her confessor, Saint Gerebernus, fled across the water to Antwerp and settled nearby in Gheel. Inevitably, the Irish king found them there and he slaughtered Gerebernus before beheading his own daughter. Centuries later, in the 1300s, the relics of the two saints became objects of reverence; their finger bones were encased in gold and rock crystal coffers, their skulls displayed in gem-studded reliquaries. From all over darkened Europe epileptics and lunatics made the pilgrimage to Gheel. These poor souls were taken into the homes of the local inhabitants, who cared for them and treated them as members of the community. And many were cured. This was a time when the mentally ill, the demented, the delusional obsessives, the paralytics and the merely strange were often rejected and cast out; although sometimes they were sanctified.
To this day, the tradition continues as mentally ill and neurologically afflicted patients come from all over the world to be housed in the town and live amidst its compassionate inhabitants. (NOT: as with much of hagiography, the truth is a hard thing to determine, also to define. This last paragraph is true, we think. The first part of the first paragraph? Unverifiable, but appealing nonetheless.)

On the bee front, CSB discovered twenty odd swarm cells (the ones that look like peanuts in their shells) in one of our Irvington hives. In order to prevent the bees from swarming, he removed as many of the swarm cells as he could, though he is unsure if he got them all. Meanwhile, we are keeping the swarm cells on a plate in he kitchen, beneath a fruit basket. Cousin H suggested covering them with a blanket, but we have not done so. CSB thinks it highly unlike that any virgin queens will emerge, but I can always hope.

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