By Ellen Doster
While we here in Philadelphia were eagerly awaiting the seasons to finally stabilize into spring, the bee yards down in Georgia were already buzzing with activity. Honey bees are extremely sensitive to climate, and in the warmer south with its short winters and earlier springs, conditions are perfect for bees to start working. While everyone else is still warming up, bees in Georgia are already being prepared for their long journeys to other parts of the country. As I eagerly awaited the arrival of Saint Mark's bees in early April, I couldn't help but think about my own journey from Georgia to Philly. The weeks leading up to my move had gone fast. I was saying goodbye to a place that had become my home. I was spending precious time with my family. I was preparing to start a year of service living in an intentional community. I was anxious yet ready to just be here already, tired of being in the weird limbo of doing nothing before something big happens.
While the bees were being transported, it must have been a little like being in limbo. There's no hive to protect, no honeycomb to tend to; they don't have much else to do but eat the syrup that's been provided to sustain them during their travel. When they got here, our bees certainly had their work cut out for them. They had to start from scratch, making all new honeycomb and building up drastically reduced numbers. Beekeepers should always be attentive to their hives, but this time is especially crucial for giving the bees the help they need while they're getting established. Before we know it, the summer will have come and gone, and then the bees will have the winter to face, and they'll need our help to survive. To my utter delight, our bees soon began to flourish and continue to do so as we move into summer. What they've accomplished so far gives me hope that they will be strong enough to survive and thrive. If they make it through the winter, they can be even more productive next year since they won't be starting with nothing like they did this spring.
In a way, I can see similarities between my and the bees' journey. When I moved here, I was starting from scratch too. I had never been to Philadelphia before and I didn't know anyone. At first it was overwhelming being in a new environment and learning on the job. But with lots of support and encouragement, I've been able to find my place here and thrive. I know the summer will come and go before I know it, and I'll be moving on to other things, but the work that I've done here and the things that I've learned will be invaluable in helping me tackle new challenges. When I start my second year in Servant Year in the fall, I'll have more to learn, but I won't be starting from nothing. I'll have the past year's foundation built solidly in place, and from there, who knows how much I'll build in the coming months. For now, the bees and I still have a ways to go.
Ellen Serves as Ministry Resident at St. Mark's Church.