The woman in front of me is wearing gumboots and the line-up for airport security is moving in its slow officious fashion. And I think: It’s a sunny July 1st and Canada’s sesquicentennial. Why is someone about to board a plane wearing gumboots? I am not too concerned because our mutual destination is Whitehorse in the Yukon. My brother-in-law has told us to pack everything from flip-flops to long johns and it did not occur to me that gumboots might also fit in that list of possibilities. I am leaving Victoria and its flurry of blackberry blossoms and Linden flowers, hoping I have left enough space in the hives to allow for a bumper crop and then some. Last year’s blackberries were a total bust and one hopes that the recent high temperatures will drive the nectar flow and provide our bees with something to feed on. My short sojourn in the north will offer the question: what’s blooming up there and when you look at the weather map it is not hard to imagine that all the same things will be in a similar intense bloom in the Yukon. Perhaps the woman in gumboots is another beekeeper on her way home to her hives. I’ll have to ask.
As I wait for the plan I am trying to imagine a video game that let you raise digital bees in a virtual world. The hive would grow, nectar would become available and then disappear, swarms would occur – unless you were diligent in maintaining hive space and a thriving queen – and honey would be produced. It could be interesting, in a two dimensional, detached sort of way! It is hard to relate to a screen and buttons when I grew up in a digital world of books and libraries. One did not have to sit on the edge of a virtual world. One could walk right through the doors and into a thousand different realms, each distinct from the next simply by picking up a book and turning the pages. Yes. Imagination is required and the details are entirely up to you. The bees you “see” in one those books may be black and yellow but mine are gold and brown. Libraries still afford a vital source of information even if Google is right at your fingertips.
In our July meeting we are going to take you back to a living library with people at the heart of each story. We will have eight stations established after our regular business agenda and you will have the opportunity to enter different worlds related to bees and learn something from one of our “living books”. Whether it is recognizing bee diseases; learning about what children want to know about bees; how to get ready for the fall fairs; or helping us make our new website work for you, or deciding what bee books to put on your shelf, you will be challenged to decide which sessions to join and which to leave until another occasion. It will be a social evening. An evening of learning. And a chance to sample several different t optics in one evening. And you won’t need your gumbootake.