Last week I noticed for the first time that the maple trees in front of the education building are in bloom and bees are working the fuzzy red blossoms. I was walking to lunch through the middle of campus, past the construction site where they are putting in a new steam tunnel that will eventually run from the power plant to the hospital, past the place where I usually look down into the deep hole they have dug in the street or up at the large crane that always brings to mind menacing characters in cartoons, when something else caught my attention—a certain shimmer in the air, perhaps, an almost imperceptible shadow as unseen bees flew between me and the sun.
I looked up into the trees and saw hundreds of bees collecting pollen and nectar. It made me smile. My first thought was to wonder where the beekeeper lives who owns the hives the bees came from. There are few wild hives left; these days we rely on beekeepers to ensure that we have enough bees to pollinate our crops. I thought perhaps the University has a couple of hives on campus, but if so, I don’t know where they are. Then I thought about the hive that Jim showed me the other day in a neighborhood not too far away, about two stories up on support posts close to the trunk of an old tree. The hive body was obviously put there in an effort to entice the bees to move out of the tree and into the box, either by the homeowners themselves or by some beekeeper they had called upon to remove the bees from the tree.
The next few times I walked past the row of maples, I looked for the bees but did not see them. One day it was too cloudy; the next it was sunny but too cold. I wonder how many days the maples will stay in bloom, whether the blossoms will be gone before the bees can return to collect the bright red pollen to feed the newly emerging brood back in the hive. Each particular tree and flower stays in bloom for such a short time.