A Bumbled Perspective –guest blogger Miss Cozette Clark

I have (another) problem.

It’s an amazing blessing to have so many people praying for Beeing Hopeful and donating to help the Women of Hope. A lot of people have been asking me about the bees. Usually I tell them the bee efforts are going well and our current plans for the future. However, now we’ve had a problem and the bees are not good at all. In fact, we are even worse off than when we started.

Our hive is a filthy wreck. The damaged hive led to infestation of termites and wax moths, which meant spoiled honey. It’s no wonder the bees have been testy. We needed to clean the hive so Dad and I hatched a plan. We would take one box and empty it of its honey. Then we could repair and repaint the hive box. After that we’d move on to the next box, transferring the combs from the current box into the refurbished box. From there we could clean out the next hive box and we’d do that for all three boxes. This method worked great on the first box we tried. We took the box to a separate location and set up three large floor fans. We were able to harvest a large amount of honey without getting stung. We set the box aside to wait for the remaining bees to leave then we got right to work and fixed it up. We thought we were doing great, we had honey and a clean hive and we were ready to move on to the brood box. The Langstroth hive (the kind that we have) is made up of wooden boxes and the bottom is called the brood box. This is where the queen lays all the eggs so that the eggs are separated from the honey. So when we were going to transfer the combs, we would also be looking for the queen. We took the clean hive down to where the others were and set up our gear. That’s when everything fell apart. Literally.

The box was filled with propolis, a black sticky substance that the bees make to use as glue. It’s everywhere! We can barely pull out the combs and when we do, they break apart in our hands. It’s easy to see why; termites have made tunnels through the frames themselves. The bees have been trying to keep them together with massive amounts of their black “homemade” glue. The combs were so old, they were almost black, and there are hardly any eggs and no queen to be found. Many of the combs have grown together so she might’ve been in there but there was too much damage already to try and break combs on purpose. We managed to get a few combs into the clean hive but many were destroyed.

I had no idea what to do next. We couldn’t take the combs, even though they had some honey in them, they were too old. We could discard them but we were afraid the bees would starve, because we had taken too much honey already. The only thing we could think of was set the honeycombs in the space between the boxes.

Any beekeeper reading this might cringe but honestly I was grasping at straws and I fully understand that I made the wrong call. We left the box we emptied to wait for the remaining bees to leave and we would come back next week to get the hive to clean it up.

Isn’t it funny how much can happen in seven days? Days seem to get longer everyday, (even though we live on the equator so they don’t) but still weeks are gone in a flash. We went down to check on the bees and to collect the empty hive and what we found almost made me sob.

The bees were gone. Wax moths had built their nests on the comb we left sitting. Wax moths eat and destroy combs by building cocoons of their larvae and burrow tunnels throughout the comb. The mere thought makes me want to puke. Also termites had retaken their territory and their tunnels ran all throughout the hive. The pests drove our suffering colony out for good. I knew that this was always a possibility; I just never thought it actually would happen.

Now that I really think it through, this is mostly my fault. We shouldn’t have left the combs sitting there and we should have moved the hive away from where we knew the termites have built a nest. But maybe this is a blessing in disguise, now we can have a fresh start with a new colony. We can begin at step one instead of step 46.

So what is our step one? We still need to clean out the hives and get rid of the pests (since the writing of the blog post, the wax moths hatched and are crawling all over the hive. It makes my skin crawl to think about it). From there, we’ll move the hives to a new location closer to our house and build stands to prevent termites from climbing into the hive.

Then we have two options. We could wait for swarming season, around March, and hope that bees find our baited hive. Or we could ask to take bees from a fellow beekeeper here where we live, but his bees are even angrier than ours were and we’d have to find the queen. Both options come with pros and cons, we are thinking we’ll do both and see which works best for our hives and us.

With our three boxes, we’ll start three different colonies, which will help with honey production in the early stages. Later on, we can build more boxes to go on top with frames that can fit a honey extractor. Then things go back to business as usual, bees foraging and making honey as we harvest it and create products.

Yes, it is frustrating and I know it’s mostly my fault. I feel like I’ve wasted a gift. A “no longer colonized” hive is just one more thing to worry about on top of the never-ending list. But I am very lucky to be in contact with some successful beekeepers. When I told them my problem, they offered very helpful advice and encouragement. So even though the little head start I had is now gone, I have hope for the future of Beeing Hopeful. Our plans have taken a few steps back, but isn’t that where you get a clearer vision? God hasn’t forgotten us or our bees that have found a new home. And with high expectations for these next few months, I think we’ll go even farther than we ever thought we would.



Guest Blog by Cheryl Essex

Several times throughout my career I have been asked “ Why do you teach? What inspired you to teach?” I know what people are assuming my response will be, expecting to hear about my passion for education and desire to inspire young minds. A teacher is often the gatekeeper of knowledge, but hopefully even more so, the catalyst for developing the habit of learning. But I don’t teach for that reason, really. I am not overly concerned about algebra, endoskeletons, grammatical mastery, or even academic advancement. I am invested all because of a deck of cards and a seed planted, along with a series of events that at the time seemed like an albatross searching for truth within broken mirrors and Nevermores.

I should probably interject at this time that I spent several years dancing in old poetry as a teenager. When I was approximately two years old, the most likely place you would have found me was attached to my mother in some way or at least in close proximity. As I grew older, the ultimate torture for me was to be placed in social situations which forced me to interact with other children my age. Now mind you, I was fine with my extended family,…as long as my mother remained in my range of vision. But when it was time to venture off to the world of Academia, and the initiation into autonomy, I still remember the panic and misery that quickly developed. I wanted to remain at home, always, in my room that became first my refuge and then later an asylum for the dysfunctional …but that is another story.

So the reason I now teach can be traced back to a scheduled Show and Tell Day, my kindergarten year. I don’t remember much about that classroom, or details about the teacher. I do recall my offering for that day, though. It was a tiny deck of cards, small even for my five year old hands. These had been purchased from a gumball machine, and were of supreme quality. The morning of the event, my teacher, to remain nameless, collected our items and placed them in a wicker basket behind her desk. The anticipation of showing my prized possession hung in the air around me throughout the early part of the day, making the time seem stagnant. Then it was announced we would break for recess and upon returning the treasures would be revealed. The excitement was almost too much to bare.

And then, came the moment- We reentered the building and moved toward our assigned seating. But in the process of doing so, an outbreak of upset occurred. The scene of the upcoming tragedy had been laid out. On the floor behind the teachers desk was scattered all the little offerings for time of Show and Tell. The basket had mysteriously dumped over. My tiny deck of cards had been thrown about and several items were broken. And then began the most horrible unfolding of all. The teacher, to remain nameless, and from that moment heartless and irredeemable to me, grabbed her broom and dust pan. She quickly begin to contain and dispose of the debris, the messy cheap trash she would now be spared from hearing boring tales about.

The event, in my memory wasn’t discussed and quickly dismissed. I now suspect the teacher was O.C.D.. So, of course, my deck of cards were gone forever and sadder yet, pure innocent trust. I truly don’t remember that teacher’s name. And now as an adult, I accept she wasn’t really Satan. Actually, I might still think she is Satan, but don’t want to have to undergo therapy so I will deny it. As an adult, I realize she had no idea how much damage she did that day. Obviously, I now realize what a silly, insignificant loss it was compared with real, inconceivably unbearable issues faced by so many children in the world. But, for me a seed was planted. That seed remained cold and undeveloped at the age of eleven.

To note, life had been mostly smooth in those formative years, especially compared to what I know of the average homelife of students today. But that year initiated me into an abyss of alienation that still reserves a corner of my mind, even to this day. I didn’t fit. Nothing fit. The world then was like what I can now compare to the Matrix, and I felt lost and alone. I lived in books and daydreams. At school I found ways to assimilate on the surface, however, it was miserable, and I hid behind layers of masks and fabrications. No one saw me, really. And eventually I preferred it. And then one day I was okay. Well, sure, that is how the story ends.

Not really, of course, but this isn’t about endings, really. This story is about inspirations and beginnings. So, the seed did bloom one day, and with it came the desire to grow and to make that barren place healthy again. But, ironically, it wasn’t a desire to grow myself. The need had been planted to help children. It was ingrained in me to find those children whose cards had been scattered and tossed; that were lost in books and shadows. I returned to the classroom to be that teacher who cares. The one who truly listens to the Show and Tell and watches and tunes in for the Unseen and Not Told. So, even though I bear the title of ‘teacher’, I am actually in the classroom to insure children don’t end up in dustpans. So there is my story, but in closing don’t forget: It isn’t my fault I am not dealing with a full deck. ( I teach Middle School, of course).

Cheryl Essex is an award winning teacher at a middle school near Fort Worth.  Her unique perspective and outstanding work ethic triggered the request for her to write a guest post.

Please comment and hopefully she will be open to writing more articles.
Cheryl, thank you for sharing an insight for all of us to benefit.

Kaleidoscope of Blindness

Over a few days this week, I spoke to Michael Nye about my experience losing my sight.  Michael Nye is a retired attorney who studies phenomena like mental illness and, now, the perspectives of individuals who are blind.  Documenting my journey from sighted person to blindness, our discussion was audio recorded over eight hours.  A five minute synopsis will be selected and presented in an art exhibition along with a photograph Michael captured over the course of two days.

This experience was different than what I am used to describing for people.  Doctors hypothesize about the flashing iridescences that have over taken my sight.  The doctors are not concerned with the types of flashes, puffs, and pulses that blind me.  I would minimize the details of the electrical fields that seem to pull me down like an undertow as I tried to keep from drowning on my emotions.  I am afraid to burden the people I care about by revealing my reality.

Definitely not therapy or counseling, my perspective was probed and I chose to acknowledge the devastation forced onto me.  Far beyond the passing conversations with friends, feelings of fear, regret, guilt, and vulnerability were brought to the surface.  Again, my emotions welled up without the security of a trained therapist,.  I was left with the need to process the unearthed feelings.  Accomplished with complete respect and warm appreciation, Michael Nye and his assistant, Alexei, provided helpful feedback.  Where I might spend all of one minute with an retina specialist describing the loud optics, these two gentleman actively listened to me emote and focus on the unspoken quilt of experiences that make up the person I am.  For that opportunity, I am eternally grateful.  I became aware of deeply rooted beliefs and unresolved trepidation.
In February 2011, in a three day period of time, urgent strobe lights descended.  Picture the static displayed on television screens except with a spectrum of colors flashing in dynamic pixels.  Regardless of the dizzying effect and internalized feeling of panic, puffy fluorescents  ripple on top of the monochromes of noise.  Like those spots that would appear on big screen movies as the projector and film show a blip of brilliant white absorbing whatever image the movie was suppose to show, these flickers pop in without any input from my eye lids being open.  The color palate is vivid with cold blues, rusty oranges, fierce reds, deep greens, and a blaze of yellows with white interjecting as the highlights create the sensation of daylight even  in a darkened room.  Exactly like the screen of TV static, no discernible images can be seen.  Upon closer examination, no clear cut pattern emerges yet the vibrance has a sustained illumination.  A periodic flare soars from one side of one eye and bursts into other surges of light.  Each eye has a separate sequence and frequency of pulse and potency of colors. 

I sheltered the ones I love from knowing these visions build to a crescendo with stress.  The sensory over stimulation generates apprehension and cluster phobia.  These flashes dominate my field of vision.  The opalescence is like sitting front row of a movie, bonfire, fireworks display, and laser light show all at once.  Often muted in the morning, the plethora of colors grow with intensity as the day progresses.  While these signals bounce from my retina to my brain, the resulting  emotions can seem like clattering as I interact with people.  Concentrating on their voices and the sounds, I can dampen my focus and hone in the conversation.
Quite the  challenge at the beginning of my blindness.  The anxiety made me irritable, emotionally fragile, and isolated from others.  The visualizations can be overtaken by a monotone of Smurf blue, Sunkist orange, or Barney purple.  Typically a consequence of stress or illness, these symptoms are psychosomatic.  Unlike hallucinations, the piercing strobes never go away and are not a result of any mental disorder.My retinas are communicating with my brain but the signals cannot be decoded.  Towards the onset, the sensations felt like a harsh gibberish.  Given time to adjust, the flashes are a symphony of colors trumpeting out a chaotic tsunami of electricity.  More than an attempt to normalize or reframe my feelings, I have come to cherish the flashes.  The glowing psychedelics are extraordinarily beautiful.  At times, in front of the static, ripples of lightening, and dancing puffs of clouds, specks of color sparkle like a delicate snow.  With a backdrop of moving kaleidoscopes, what I get to experience is a living opal, peppered by bright oranges, lush greens,sharp reds, and  cascades of blue.  The specks trickle down and seem to twinkle in front of the glowing background.  I am truly blessed.  In fact, the entire experience of being blind has brought a rich reverence for being alive and the authentic connection with others.  How many people get to hand over their trust to a dog?  Blindness has shown a spotlight on human nature, the reality of true friendship, and the opportunity to explore the world without sight.  I have a front row seat for the best show in town.