“The Problem”

“The Problem” by Susan Kay Anderson was created from Anna Botsford Comstock’s How to Keep Bees (1905). Please click here to read the poem.

About the poem and the process of composing it, Susan writes:

It can be intimidating to write about bees, honey, butterflies, and flowers right now because they seem to be everywhere in writing, and what can be said as we find ourselves on the verge of extinction along with bees?  For this poem, I scanned the chapter “How to Keep from Keeping Too Many Bees” for a story underlying what is explicit. I first read the whole book but came back to this chapter because I thought it was interesting that too many or too much of what you have or keep can be a problem. I picked out words and phrases which spoke to me, erasing the rest of the text in my mind as I went. I wanted to use this fantastic book for the found poetry project suggested by Heron Tree in the fall of 2020. I saw Sarah Ann Winn’s poem “Nature, Chrome Painted” (published by Heron Tree in October 2016) and was inspired. How to Keep Bees is so practical, but its language is so distracting that it is hard to understand. It is a foreign language of a century ago, a strange, fancy world where every single thing seems to matter and must be taken into account. I thought about this and was knocked over by the immense responsibility of beekeeping and also by the immense love and art it takes to get this food, which needs no processing by us to be consumed (just as milk is). Maybe this is why writing about bees and honey and butterflies is so popular right now. What is simple or a simple fact about life on this planet as a human connects so directly to bees, of course, and to this handbook.