June2016 294

This is me with my sister, Paula

I am one of four children.  My siblings were 15, 12 and 11 when I came along.  According to Earnie, the folklore about how the announcement of my birth went down with the sibs…my sister Paulina (my pet name for her because all Reeves women, for some reason, add an “ina” to the end of our names — Ruth(ina), Helen(ina), and so on) cried because she was so happy and my brothers weren’t sure how this was going to affect their free time.

And so it went, the happy day of my birth was soon approaching.  Earnie announced I would be named Mary Helen, after her beloved Aunt Helen.  Aunt Helen’s personality was bigger than life.  Two things Auntie was known for — cussing and her tater tot casserole.

Paulina gasped and said no one will speak to her if you name her Mary Helen (say it again trying to make each name drawn out into 3-4 syllables).  So, Earnie said, “fine you name her.”  Mother disputes this story, but sister says for the five days we were in the hospital the records clerk would come to Mother’s room asking what name they had selected for the birth record.  Mother, knowing the siblings were home selecting the perfect name, told her to come back tomorrow.  On the 5th day, the clerk told Mother a decision had to be made.  My siblings went through a baby book and once they arrived at Melissa, they knew it was meant to “bee.” Hence, Melissa Kay (Kay, I guess because that was a popular Southern middle name at the time).

Honey bee on flower, close-up, differential focusMelissa is Greek for honeybee — who has turned out to be one of my most favorite of God’s creatures.   Some interesting tidbits on honeybees… Ever hear the phrase “busy as a bee”?  As hive dwellers, bees work repetitively at the same task all day long.   When a bee leaves the hive, it may fly as many as ten miles a day, gathering and foraging pollen and nectar to bring back to the hive, over and over again. According to the National Honey Board, a bee may visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just one pound of honey. Thus, bees are associated with hard work and diligence.

A single honey bee worker produces about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.  For honey bees, there’s power in numbers. From spring to fall, the worker bees must produce about 60 lbs. of honey to sustain the entire colony during the winter. It takes tens of thousands of workers to get the job done.  The Queen is very good at delegating this task.  Wink.

Honey bees can fly at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.   That might seem fast, but in the bug world, it’s actually rather slow. Honey bees are built for short trips from flower to flower, not for long distance travel. Their tiny wings must flap about 12,000 times per minute just to keep their pollen-laden bodies aloft for the flight home.

Here’s a downer — a typical foraging honey bee will work herself to death in about three weeks. Yikes.

I’d like to think my life resembles the characteristics of the honey bee.  Hard working, diligent, never gives up.  Loyal.  Flitting hither and yon among the flowers.  I love to garden and try to plant host plants for my little busy friends.  But, I wonder…is the bee too busy to stop and enjoy the beauty of the flowers because they are focusing more on acquiring the pollen?  Are they smelling the roses or just landing on them?  We can all take our cue from the honeybee.  Slow down to enjoy the journey that life takes us on, rather than the packing and to do list that has to be checked off to leave for that trip.