Humming with the Hive

For Annelies


At 1pm on Saturday, we don our white bee suits

me in a hip length jacket

and Annelies, my 82 year old spirit-mom

decked out in full jumpsuit

We zip each other’s heads and faces

into the protective netting

and slowly approach the hive

Annelies is in a pissy mood

and it’s my first time with the bees

so I tell her you best get over your mood

or you’ll upset the bees

and they’ll sting us both to death!

I ask the bees’ permission

and Annelies loads the smoke gun

I take a breath and lift the lid

Annelies bellows a few puffs

into the crawling mass of guard bees

who stand sentry at the top of the hive

They immediately whisk themselves away

on the tiny spinning wheels of their wings

to alert their Queen

who reigns from ground level

her tiered crown rising in boxes of gold above her

We lever out the frames of hexagonal comb

eager to feast our eyes on the harvest

to our delight they are full to the waxy brims

and oozing with sticky goodness

We tap the sides of the frames

and the bees fall down

in piles of yellow and brown chaos

climbing over each other

weaving a tapestry

with the fine threads of their legs

Time slows down

I am in the zone

It’s actually the most at peace I’ve felt in weeks

Relaxed and careful

I don’t want to injure even one single bee

Did you know it takes one bee’s entire life to make a single drop of honey?

I am holding a spoonful of amber custard

that I just dug out of the comb

I place it in my mouth like a golden egg

there is no word to describe this

We poke into pockets of dark pollen

pull out them out like treasure

How can you not spread your hands to the sky

and say thank you!

Thank you to the sun and the flowers

Thank you to the earth and the water

Thank you to the bees!

Thank you for each mouthful of glory

that makes me feel

like I have just heard the most amazing news!

Here with the bees

I am inspired by their cooperation

how each bee gives her life for the hive

Why can’t we learn to live in community like the bees?

Why don’t we know that we are stronger

when we work together as a whole

each of us contributing our skills and talents

for the greater good

The bees share their amber bounty

still warm from the hive

it drips in rivulets down my fingers and chin

I cannot stop lapping it up

I cannot stop smiling

every cell of my being

steeped in sweetness

humming along with the hive

How much longer will we survive as a species

let alone live in sustainable interdependence

with the entire web of life

if we don’t choose love and cooperation




-Meredith Heller

Meredith Heller is a performing poet and singer/songwriter with graduate degrees in writing and education and the author of the new collection, SONGLINES (Finishing Line Press, 2019). She studied writing and education in the graduate departments at Johns Hopkins University, Naropa University, and Goddard College. She was a Poet in the Schools in Boulder, CO where she taught at-risk and gifted youth. Currently, a California Poet in the Schools and Poetry Out Loud coach, she teaches poetry writing workshops in Marin County schools, Juvenile Hall, and now on Zoom. She leads Moon Tribe ‘Write of Passage’ Nature Program for teen girls and hosts Siren Song, a women’s singer/songwriter night.

Meredith is a frequent poetry contributor to Rebelle Society & We’Moon. Her work has also appeared in Quiet Lightning, The Aquarian, Avocet, and the book, Women, Their Names, & The Stories They Tell. Her essays are published in Common Ground & Tiny House Magazines. Her song ‘Little Boy Blue’ was reviewed in American Songwriter Magazine. A nature girl who spent fifteen summers solo-backing, she hikes the trails daily and lives with a gentle footprint in Marin County, CA. She is mused by nature, synchronicity, and kindred souls.