My friend at the Memphis Botanic Garden, horticulturist Sherri McCalla, sent me a quote from Fred C. Galle’s Hollies: The Genus Ilex: “Of all old English traditions, however, one of the most enchanting is that even the bees must be wished a Merry Christmas; a sprig of shiny green and bright red holly must adorn each hive.” This is a fitting tradition, as the hollies are an important family of bee plants. Hollies provide ample nectar and pollen for the bees. The bees pollinate holly flowers, producing fruit and seed in bright red berries.
Honey bees communicate within the colony primarily through odors and vibrations. Bees rapidly share the condition of the colony with all bees in the hive. Today, the internet allows beekeepers and others interested in bees to communicate instantaneously. Distance is no object. I sent a friend an e-mail message, thinking he was in Arkansas. He responded immediately, from 12 time zones away in Nepal. The internet allows us to share news and ideas quickly and virtually anywhere. For example, this blog has been read in at least 162 countries around the world. Software allows us to translate among foreign languages. I regularly read the comments and writings of those who share an interest in our bees, our craft of beekeeping, and our environment. Isentsov, one of our readers from Moscow, Russia, writes: “Remember that practice without theory is blind, but theory without practice is useless.” In one sentence he clearly describes the complexity of beekeeping. It involves both an understanding of honey bee biology and the shared skills, learned from observation of the hives, handed down from generation to generation. In short, beekeeping is a science and an art. Communicating with each other, we discover solutions to honey bee health problems, develop better ways to produce honey and hive products, and more effectively pollinate our crops. Increased communication leads to greater understanding. The Underhills who operate Peace Bee Farm offer to all: “Peace be with you.”--Richard