Dominican sisters who are beekeepers talk about how to understand bees, avoid stings, and live in harmony with creation. Guests: Sisters Barbara Hagel and Jeanette DeYoung. Hear the full In Good Faith episode IGF046 at aNunsLife.org.
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Sisters Barbara Hagel (left) and Jeanette DeYoung (right) are Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose in Fremont, California. They are also gardeners, beekeepers, and educators whose work exemplifies the Dominican Sisters’ leadership in caring for creation.
The Dominican campus is home to a 5,000 square foot vegetable garden, a community garden, fruit trees, olive trees dating to the early 1800s, a meadow, and over 1 million honeybees. It’s a place of beauty and education, where the local community gathers with the sisters to learn about and model sustainable living.
This podcast is brought to you by A Nun's Life Ministry. You are here with Sister Maxine of A Nun's Life Ministry and my guests, Sister Barbara Hagel, and Sister Jeanette DeYoung, Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. For people who really do want to be friendly, but are a little bit nervous because of getting stung, is there something you could recommend for them? A way to be with the bees?
It's important to know that bees are not out to get you. They don't want to sting you; they will die if they do. As soon as they sting you, they die. So if they can help it, they're not going to sting you, and they will definitely go about their business if you let them. If you interfere with that, then yes, they're going to defend their hive or they're going to defend their food or whatever else comes up. The other thing is, if you're in your garden, and you have flowered colored clothes on, they're going to think you're a flower. [laughter] So maybe dress appropriately for a bee.
The other thing, and I know that because I tend to water the flowers that are close to the beehives. What will happen, I'll be watering for a while, and all of a sudden, a bee comes and hits my head. It's a sign they're getting concerned about what you're doing. And sometimes, if they come and hit it a second time, I realize I need to leave because the next time they may sting me. But they give you a warning. They literally just fly right into and bump your head. That means, "Go away, you're too close."
So it's good to pay attention to the messages that they're sending.
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This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.