They fly. They drive. They walk. In every bustling city and placid backwater of America, friends and family gather for Thanksgiving dinner. Over steaming heaps of stuffed turkey and mashed potatoes dripping with gravy, they all talk at once, sharing accomplishments, dreams, and plans. The mesmerizing scent of sage, rosemary, and thyme compete with the piquant aroma of pumpkin pie in a sensual overload of fragrance.
Of course, it’s not always picture perfect. I’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner alone in a McDonald’s somewhere in Missouri. I’ve spent Thanksgiving working the swing shift in a doughnut shop and another clearing plates in a nursing home. As penniless students in Oregon, Rich and I often shared our small feast with other cash-strapped students, each far from home and happy to be sheltered from the dank Willamette Valley rain.
A time for reflection
To me, Thanksgiving is not about the end point but about the journey. Each year, on the fourth Thursday of November, we stop—however briefly—and assess our lives at the moment, giving thanks that we’ve come this far, however simple or turbulent the journey has been. And since bees and beekeeping make up a large part of my day-to-day existence, I like to think about you, the readers of Honey Bee Suite.
A website isn’t a real thing without someone to read it. So it’s all of you, some of whom are reading right now, that make it work. Now that’s something to be thankful for.
In truth, I have met very few of you face-to-face. Nevertheless, many of you are household names. Around home, I talk about you as if we’ve been friends forever, and Rich has heard your names so often, he even asks about you!
Just last night, he said, “Have you heard from Phillip lately?” (Yes). The day before it was, “What’s Tony up to these days?” (Plenty!) and “Roberta said that?” (Can you believe it?) It’s really funny, all these diverse people united by nothing more than love for a six-legged, venom-laden, kamikaze creature with no backbone whatsoever. I guess that’s something.
Fuel for the mental fire
Without your stories and photographs, questions and comments, I would have nothing to write about. Just when I wonder where to go next, someone will ask a question I never thought of, or show me a new gadget I didn’t know we needed.
But the best part of writing Honey Bee Suite is your sense of humor. I often read mail and burst into laughter over a cute story or an offbeat turn of phrase. Last week, when some asked me to write about queen extruders, the mental image had me in stitches.
Most readers of a website come and go, perhaps looking for a specific answer or, in true beekeeper fashion, looking for forty. Others are diehard regulars awaiting the next post, restless when it doesn’t come on time. But both types shape the site, set the tone, and help determine what gets published. Unlike a book, it’s planned writing without a plan.
A different kind of beekeeper
Right from the beginning I knew Honey Bee Suite was not for everyone. I knew it would annoy (a polite word) the old boys. Back when I started, I didn’t care. And I still don’t. The site is not for those who think there is only one way to keep bees or who need to be told what to do next. And it’s not for people who are willing to act without knowing why.
The site is for people like you—thinking people who realize that every colony is different, as is every environment and every beekeeper. It for people who understand that bee biology is the answer to most beekeeping questions. It is for those who realize that only the bees can lead us to solid, logic-based decisions about how best to keep them. Those are the people who gather here.
Giving thanks once again
As always, the first person I must thank is Rich. Although not crazy about bees, he has urged me along since day one. Rich is quick to see alternate ways of doing things, techniques I may have overlooked, or creative solutions to arcane problems. And when I mumble about “nothing to write about,” he can knock off a dozen ideas in a single sentence. Don’t be fooled: Honey Bee Suite would not exist without him.
Next comes all of you who visit the site, especially the regulars. I’m grateful for your photos, stories, sometimes hare-brained inventions, and samples of luscious honey. I’m grateful when you take the time to argue, disagree, correct my grammar, and pierce my reasoning. Not least, I’m grateful for your charming humor and generous financial support.
But above all, I want to thank you for just being you. Writing and maintaining Honey Bee Suite continues to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I owe its success to each and every one of you. I never forget those who’ve helped me along the way, and you have a special place in my heart.
Honey Bee Suite