When I was a kid, my sisters and folks and I would visit our grandparents (Mother's parents) in Springville, New York, in the western part of the state, a little village south of Buffalo. Grandma and Grampa had a small farm along Cattaraugus Creek with rich lowland soils perfect for gardening. Our Aunt Marge and Uncle Jim grew the most delicious vegetables. I can still remember the melons that would melt in your mouth.
Grampa kept bees. And one of the biggest thrills of every visit was when he would open a hive and scoop out a huge wad of honeycomb. The wild flower honey was out of this world. Grampa would strip to a pair of shorts and pack a new start of tobacco into his pipe then dive his hand into the hive — I never recall him ever getting stung once.
I am mentioning this because I recall how the bees were going in all directions, especially when Grampa opened the hive. They didn't seem upset particularly, just busying about, always with the final intent of getting back to the hive. As chaotic as it seemed, it also seemed like they knew what they were doing, just waiting for the right time to make their move.
In a funny way I was reminded of those bees the other day when I was invited to watch sailboat races hosted by the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club. As I stood on the deck of the committee boat, all those little bees were zipping around in ways that made absolutely no sense to me. Why on earth were they going so many different directions if their ultimate goal was to get back home. Lucky for me I was standing right next to Matthew Hill, the Race Administration Director for US Sailing, from Bristol, Rhode Island. He very graciously explained things.
There were wind directions, wind speeds, turns around marks, and terms totally foreign.
Mr. Hill helped me understand what was going on and how things might proceed.
It was a most interesting event to watch.
And the bees came from all over New England-- in the vicinity of 70 boats all together. A most productive hive as they made their way home!