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By Echoview Fiber Mill News 28 comment24/August The Bee Whisperer - Appalachian Honey
If not for the sheer thought of being surrounded by a swarm of winged stingers, the constant, dull buzzing of not just one or two, but hundreds of bees in all directions is enough to test the limits of your sanity. If you’re like most people, there’s no doubt in your mind the bees are letting you know exactly who’s in charge, and it’s not you.
But if you’re like Sarah Eshan, you hear something very different. You hear the welcoming hum of close friends. You also see things the rest of us don’t, like the "happy dance" a bee gives to share with the others when they’ve found a good source of nutrition. If you’re Sarah, you even feel a bee sting differently. To her, the sting means the bees are helping you, because they know you’re there to help and respect them. “I had locked up my neck. All of a sudden, a bee comes up and stings me right here.” She points to a spot inside her left elbow. “That instant moment, the crick in my neck released. Later that day, my son, who had been studying acupuncture, showed me that very spot is where it makes your neck turn.”
After just a few minutes witnessing Sarah in her element, handling the hives in flip flops and exposed skin (even her face for some of the time), the most striking part of this all is not her Dr. Dolittle-like connection to the bees, it’s that this intuition presents itself so naturally that you wouldn’t think to second-guess the relationship as real and their communication authentic.
Later, at a local artisan shop in downtown Asheville, NC, Sarah and her son are sampling out blackberry honey they harvested back at the Echoview Farm, answering questions and telling stories. No sooner does she appease one man’s inquiries about the source of the honey before she turns to his two children, whetting their curiosity just enough by explaining that gene diversity in the hive is made possible by drone bees who get to hang out in any hive they choose and drink honey all day. Perhaps any other day and these two boys, the oldest no more than 8 years old, would be reaching for their parents’ phone, but Sarah has developed a keen ability to summon the imagination, deploying hand gestures, facial expressions and bee props as though she’s conjuring a spell - the kind of spell that make you warm inside and makes you believe magic really is real. The boys are hooked - “That’s so coooool!”
With a seemingly endless well of knowledge that engages anyone within ear shot, Sarah ends her time with us as she seamlessly transitions into one final story. “I love to get a male carpenter bee because they don’t have stingers,” she says, followed by a pause that compels everyone to lean in. We’re sure some little-known fact is about to be revealed. “I put them in my mouth and wait patiently until someone walks up wanting to sample some honey. Then I let it fly out of my mouth and watch their reaction.” Our reaction is probably not much different from that of the unsuspecting honey sampler, as the crowd around bursts with surprised laughter. “I do the same with drone bees, but they really start to tickle inside your mouth while you’re waiting.”
Sarah, also known as “The Bee Whisperer,” is Echoview’s resident beekeeper. She visits her 60 hives daily with the help of her son and daughter, making sure her bees are healthy and happy. Outside of making some of the best honey to come out of Appalachia, she spends her time as a storyteller and running workshops to educate everyone: from the curious to those ready to start their own operation.