School Sisters of Notre Dame Associates
Living out the works of mercy in their everyday life
Beekeeping shows mercy and compassion
By Associate Dianne Henke – Wisconsin
|Beekeeper – Dianne Henke
Most people may not think of beekeeping as an act of mercy. However, if the main reason to care for bees is to help them survive in an increasingly unsafe environment made so by human action, and to refrain from exploiting them for the honey they produce, beekeeping surely represents compassion and mercy.
When I began beekeeping six years ago, I thought it would be simple to keep bees happy, healthy and stress-free. I thought they only needed a sturdy hive in an appropriate location, lots of flowers and only natural medical treatments. I would also need to leave enough honey for their winter food. I soon learned beekeeping is much more complicated than that.
After taking a 2-year University of Wisconsin Extension beekeeping course, attending many lectures, reading numerous books and articles and tending bees for six years, I am still a “newbee” regarding beekeeping. I care for up to 50,000 bees per hive. I must make sure they are not too hot in the summer or cold in the winter, and have access to flowers and enough water. I must also protect my bees from predators, parasites, diseases. For the bees to survive through our cold Wisconsin winters, they must have enough honey stores. In my estimation, the learning curve for beekeeping spans a lifetime.
So why take on such an endeavor? If we are called to this work of mercy, we experience the wonderful way bees interact with each other. They can teach us so much about life. The hive is one living organism and each bee is part of this oneness. The hive cannot survive without each bee playing its part. Beekeeping in this manner is an act of mercy.