Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bee wise (Or lessons I learned while shooting bees and tasting freshly-dripped honey)

50 days max. That’s the lifespan of the drone bee.  Compared to humans, that's awfully short but boy, do they make up for it by bee-ing busy.  The workers live a bit longer, anywhere from 1-4 months but the all-important queen (The VIB or Very Important Bee) can live for up to five years. Interesting facts for someone who has casually ignored these lovely creatures that defy the laws of physics stating that their bodies are not suited for flying (that act of defiance is already a lesson in itself). Not that I wanted to but I have so many hives- and anaphylaxis-inducing allergies cropping up in adulthood and dread that bee stings will be added to the growing list.
What's the buzz?  Good thing, my mountaineering/hiking days made me more tolerant of things that crawl, fly or buzz. Or make it more appreciative of insects that usually go unnoticed, like bees. The Dreamworks movie didn’t create the buzz expected but even if I found the movie flat, I got the message alright: if the bees stopped production, life on earth as we know it will grind to a halt – which is the same thing JP, the apiary hand at Hacienda San Benito in Batangas, told me. In a world dominated by technology, that’s really thought-provoking or better yet, sobering.
Bee-ing informed.  The apiarists constructed a nice, highly-visual contraption I call the honeydripper (I never expected the Robert Plant band namesake really has a physical equivalent) and it was almost zen-like to witness golden honey escape the combs after the beeswax has been scraped off, running the length of the bamboo catcher and dripping off in deliberate slowness onto a coconut shell. I learned that the color of the honey differs according to what the bees fed on – the darker hues if they fed on the coffee trees, lighter shades if they visited the grasses and flowering shrubs.  I got a taste of the freshly-dripped honey and found it a tad too sweet; pity to say that when I often eat sugar-laden stuff with no misgivings.  Glad to be of acquaintance at the Hacienda San Benito apiary, my dear honeybees.  You all certainly don't look anywhere like the always jolly bee that greets me with Chicken Joy.   (Info: bee images taken with Nikkor 60mm macro lens; many thanks to Hacienda San Benito for being our gracious host during a photo assignment for Seair Inflight Magazine; for details on the property, visit www.haciendasanbenito.com; photos taken for Seair Inflight Magazine, May 2010 issue)
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