Carl White's Life in the Carolinas

A Journey Inside the Hive

by

Suzelle Sinclair

suzelle.sinclair@earthlink.net

“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.” -Saint John Chrysostom

The last of the afternoon sun made golden streaks of light across the kitchen table. I sat quietly, absorbing the essence of a weekend well lived. The steam rose from my cup of tea and the delightful aromas of chamomile and lavender intermingled with that of the fresh cut flowers that adorned my kitchen table. My faithful pup, Gracie lie sleeping on the rug beneath my feet. It had been a busy weekend and she was ready for a nap.

While the rest of the world seemed content for this wonderful weekend to draw to a close, I was not quite prepared for it to end. I thought for a moment, considering what one other thing I would have liked to have done. A visit to the North Carolina Zoo would have been most enjoyable. The North Carolina Zoo is the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. It is nestled on 2600 wooded acres in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. Currently, 500 acres are developed for the North American and African regions. The zoo will soon be expanding with the additions of Australian and Asian regions. Although, like Gracie, the animals that live in the zoo are turning in for the evening and the gates of the zoo have closed for the day, I can still enjoy a visit. The zoo has a number of virtual experiences available online.

While most folks think about animals in the zoo, most often the large and impressive animals such as the elephants, polar bears, chimpanzees or the giraffes come to mind. However the North Carolina Zoo is home to more than 1800 animals as well as thousands of insects and plants. The Zoo EDventures series provide in-depth information about many of these amazing creatures, large and small. Zoo staff lead virtual guests on these tours that serve to enhance the quality of future in-person visits to the zoo.

Since the next day would be February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day. And since Saint Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers, I decided to enjoy the Honeybee Zoo EDventure. I have visited the Honey Bee Garden at the zoo on many past visits, but the virtual tour has me excited to visit again soon. The zoo experts provided many fascinating facts on this virtual tour. For example, did you know that a Drone, which is a male bee, has a grandfather, but does not have a father? I had to really think about that. This is because male honeybees are the result of an unfertilized egg and they only have a haploid set of genes.

The North Carolina Zoo’s, Zoo EDvertures tour gave me a new appreciation for honeybees. I plan to attend a few more virtual tours to learn more about various animals big and small before my next visit to the zoo. I turned my computer off for the evening and felt a sense of fulfillment. It was just the one extra thing I needed to make my weekend feel complete. I added a bit more honey to my tea and I contemplated the tiny creatures that not only made my delicious honey, but through their work as pollinators, make possible every fruit and vegetable. While honeybees may seem small, the work of each and every bee is important.

As I headed to bed for the night, I thought how, like the honeybees, our small, everyday acts of kindness too can make a great impact and sweeten the lives of others.

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For information about the North Carolina Zoo, and to plan an in-person visit or to access the virtual resources, visit: https://www.nczoo.org

CHARLOTTE WEATHER