Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beekeepers' Ball

It goes without saying that I'm obsessed with the culture of the bee. It is utterly enlightening to observe, from a privileged perspective, a microcosmic social system seemingly as complex as our own. Although I enjoy anthropomorphizing the little buzzers, I believe that the pleasure I derive from their presence in my life exemplifies an essential difference between humans and bees. Bees are all work, no play. Humans, on the other hand, are capable of both. Interestingly, humans dressed as bees are incapable of work (unless that work involves drinking mead and waggle dancing,) and achieve greater pleasure than humans not dressed as bees.

Beekeeper and Queen Bee Waggle Dancing (and indulging in a delicious honey-glazed donut)
(Note bees stuck to veil... a brilliant detail. The Queen looked stunning. I want that dress.)

Me, waggle dancing

We didn't let those dreary skies get us down!

Two worker bees, chatting about how they love costume parties

Awash in a sea of yellow, united by a love of honeybees

The Beekeepers' Ball kicked off the first day of Pollinator Week, organized by Just Food. Beekeepers, bee lovers, urban gardeners and costume enthusiasts gathered at the South Street Water Taxi Beach last night to raise awareness about the importance of honeybees. Beekeeping is illegal in NYC for stupid reasons. (Read: stupid people.) Pretty much every major city in the US has legalized beekeeping because residents understand the important role pollination plays in our environment. Somehow, New York is still living in the dark ages, fining beekeepers for contributing to the health and diversity of our ecosystem. As I mentioned in an earlier post, honeybees are gentle, like fuzzy puppies who fly. If you haven't already, please sign the petition to legalize beekeeping in the city!

People often ask me how/why I got into beekeeping. My best answer has been this: a whim collided with an opportunity. Last night, as I posed for photos in full-on bee camo in front of delighted tourists at South Street Seaport, I was reminded how strange, fortuitous, and sweet these last few months have been.

I lost my job as an English Teacher at a public, bilingual high school in the Bronx in March, due to "budget cuts." According to my evil principal, my 9th graders could do without English Language Arts, (think Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, etc.) because they had ESL (think I am, you are, etc.). Although this logic continues to baffle me, I was forced to accept my situation and make the most of it. Beekeeping has introduced me to an entirely different way of life: slower, with less stress and more joy. I've returned to the things that I love: writing, nature, learning, activism... I've met incredible people. I'm happier than I've been in a long time.

In his awesome, beautifully written, informative book The Queen Must Die, writer and beekeeper William Longgood ruminates, "How many of us would be other than we are if not for chance, because some small cog slipped in here when it could as easily have gone in there?" One of my cogs, (a very expensive cog,) fell into grad school, another cog subsequently slipped into teaching, which ultimately led to a surprise cog being forcefully jammed into unemployment. Somewhere along the way I changed my entire idea of what my life might look like. I cannot congratulate myself for this newfound perspective, as Longgood so eloquently reminds me: "Any credit or blame that we take for what befalls us must be shared with the capricious god of chance."

The god of chance is certainly capricious, but his mighty winds are blowing good things in my direction for the time being. If only he could stop the rain...

Feeling like Bee Jackson
Happy Pollinator Week!!!

There's a great article about the Ball (and photo of the costume winners) in the Dining blog of the New York Times! Read!

1 comment:

  1. Hey - I love your photos too! Thanks for stopping by. Lexi (LightheartedLocavore.com)