By Monique Léger

“Do bees sleep in the honey?”

That was his question for me.  He and his buddy were three years old.

I met these lovely boys on Remembrance Day at the picnic table outside the learning centre. They were having a morning snack with their Forest Preschool teacher, Sarah.  I took out my bee gear: frames of bees wax, some with honey still clinging for them to taste, my white overalls with the funny mesh hat that covers the face, a few smokers (the metal box in which we make a fire, close the lid and blow gentle smoke inside the hive to keep the bees calm) and some bee books.

I was glad that we moved past the introductions quickly and got to the heart of our purpose, sharing bee knowledge.  The boys’ curious eyes, hands, tongues and questions shaped our time together. Both loved carrying the smokers to the hives. I had no idea these objects were such a source of glee!

I’ve pondered this question “Do bees sleep in the honey” as a way to get closer to what sleeps in nature, how it sleeps, when it wakes. What sleeps in me while I am awake and what appears to be alive when I sleep.

With winter, the association is more immediate, the cold takes care of the animals and plants, they find refuge, hibernate, lower their blood flow or raise it, dig a hole in the mud, burrow under roots, close off the small roots, produce more fur.

We turn up the heat and pull on woolen clothing. Bees spend 5-6 months fluttering their wings to keep the queen warm between November and April. They die as soon as the new spring bees hatch.

Nature can’t rush winter. Winter comes and does its winter thing along with the stars dancing in the winter constellations.  For many nature creatures, sleep during winter is a way to gather strength, a way to build resiliency in slowness.

Sometimes people do that as well. When I can put the jumping monkey that won’t stop chattering in my brain to rest, I can awaken to more calm.

In the calm comes rest. In the rest comes tranquility. Winter calm, white, tranquil and more.

If it had not been for this lovely question, I would not have given winter sleep much thought.

Do bees sleep in the honey?

Do we sleep in what we create?

Maybe.

(Monique Léger does beekeeping at Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre — and you can read more about CREWC’s forest preschool at their blog.)

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