By Alexis Bonoff
“They don’t sting” Hector said, lifting the top off the wooden beehive. I was unsure but bent over, watching the small rust orange bees dance back and forth over brown volcano-shaped mounds. With the flat of a knife, he peeled one open to expose the honeycomb. “Try it,” he encouraged, dipping his pinky finger into the gooey golden sheen. The bees, true to his word, did not seem bothered but continued to work away. I dipped my finger down. The honey was thin and runny, rather than congealed and heavy, and tasted light and sweet, unlike any other I had had before. “And this,” Hector pointed to a fluorescent orange powder, “is the pollen.” The pollen was bitter and dry and stuck to my finger, staining it brightly. Yet it tasted of clover and grasses and somehow of summer. I tried it again, this time contrasting it with the honey. Back and forth, from one to the other, I tasted, as the bees shuffled around, not frenetic nor angry but in the rhythmic dance of everyday work. Even after we feasted on an extensive delicious meal made only from the food grown on the farm, the taste of Cuba that will linger in my mind is the bitter sweet of the pollen and honey of the local bees.
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