Loyalty Nearly Killed My Beehive – Issue 16: Nothingness

Some time ago I read a short story by Roald Dahl called “Royal Jelly.” It’s the tale of a father desperately searching for ways to save his malnourished infant daughter who refuses her mother’s milk. This man is an apiarist, and while looking for answers, he picks up the latest article on royal jelly—the microbial mix that honeybees feed to their larva when they want to raise a new queen. “Royal jelly… must be a substance of tremendous nourishing power,” he eventually tells his wife when she discovers that he has been secretly feeding it to their child, “for on this diet alone, the honey-bee larva increases in weight 1500 times in five days!” Soon his daughter is rapidly gaining weight and ravenous for her milk.

I became fascinated with bees after reading this story. I bought guidebooks, joined beekeeping meet-ups, watched documentaries, and, last year, finally sent away for a nuc of 20,000 bees. I asked a friend if she thought this was a good idea, and after a telling pause, she said, “Well, you’ll have to be okay with being that guy.” Undeterred, I installed the bees on the roof of my Brooklyn apartment and began the…
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