Labor Songs Will Rise From Bee and Birth
There is an eighty-year-old German beekeeper in Bellingham who swears his bees know his voice. He’s been singing to his bees once every seven to ten days for 73 years.
The first time I opened my own hive all I could hear was the agitated hum and buzz of 30,000 angry bees. I’m a beekeeper; I’m also a caretaker. The modern mama honey bee has a lot she’s up against and a skilled beekeeper can be the difference in the hive’s survival or failure.
I’m the intruder, but I’m also the sustainer and treasurer of their peace.
I remember taking deep breaths and doula-ing myself through my first inspection, “Breath deep, In….Out….In….Out….Just so….there you go….”
Then I begin to hum. Matching the intensity of the humming bees. The hum turns into a song and as time passes, frame by frame, comb by comb, the bees begin to relax, as do I.
My song, on occasion, slows to nudge a worker from her perch.
“There you go lady, scooch, scooch, just there,” I deftly move my hive tool from one spot to another in a steady search for the natural cycles of eggs, brood, honey, and bee.
Years later, I don’t know that my bees know my voice, but I do know that my song calms me and in turn calms them. We are both distracted by the melodic tones of hum and tune, buzz and beauty.
The bees and I labor together supporting each other’s purpose.
Just so in a mother’s labor.
The work doesn’t stop.
The contractions do not cease, but what beauty to be found here, in the labor song, holding onto that steady sound, easing from one point to another, distractedly singing one’s way from agitation and intrusion to peace and honey.
Its berry season in the Pacific North West. Soon the combs will drip with this sweet tinge of red and blue berries. The bees will continue in their cyclical work.