Last weekend, a neighbor gifted me with her beehive. My dad, who is a retired-doc-turned-beekeeper quickly dashed over with full regalia to help in my new venture. Now, I own a smoker, brushes, assorted tools, a lovely, fashionable suit and chapeau, a bunch of bees and boxes. It happened rather suddenly, but that’s okay with me. I love bees.
You see, it was actually my dad’s beekeeping that led me to encaustics. I was looking for a new painting medium that had little waste, could last close to indefinitely (some encaustic paintings are 3000 years old) and was tied closely to nature. You can read more here about how we extracted honey and cleaned the wax for painting medium a couple years ago.
So, back to the day my beehive and sundry items arrived. It was a cold day so the bees were sleepy. We suited up and moved these super heavy boxes (who knew all those teeny bees weighed so much!) one by one from my neighbor’s yard to the back of my field behind the apple and pear trees.
I learned how to smoke the bees (that’s sounds funny) so they stay mellow when I’m working with them and how to prepare a syrup solution for them to eat while waiting for the spring flowers.
The most amazing thing I learned though was how to be in slow-mo. I usually go through my day at the speed of light. I know it’s not very healthy but it’s my tendency. When I put on the bee suit though, I couldn’t move quickly. It’s big, made me clumsy and I couldn’t see or hear well with the muffled hat. The kid gloves are nice but they’re thick and go up to my elbows, making it hard to move fast. I was cocooned.
Combine that cocooning with the buzzing bees and smoke and I was not only forced to slow down but I experienced the zen of beekeeping. Now I know what my dad has been raving about all these years. It reminds me of when I paint and I get into that “space” where time doesn’t exist but creativity continues to flow. I love that space.
I’m now looking forward to hopefully harvesting my own honey and wax to use in my paintings (I use the unbleached wax to tint my colors). I like that I have another activity that is it’s own art form and is tied closely to nature and my art.