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Miss Bee-hav’in

At the risk of turning all the boys on, I thought I’d share a pin up of me, worthy of beekeeper magazine. I’d like to show more skin, but considering the point is to cover as much as you can, I’m afraid this is as sexy as it gets. I am wearing layers under layers here, and wondering how I’m supposed to wear this working with bees, since you can only open beehives in the midday sun on warm days. Alas, they don’t make air-conditioned bee suits. I’ll have to rough it.


This is the group of other daring individuals that took the beekeeper weekend session at the Campbell Folk School along with me. See how normal we all look? Well, looks can be deceiving.


This is our display for the craft show. I think it shows all the bee paraphernalia well. The big tubular can thing is a honey extractor. I don’t have one of those yet, but I won’t need it till next year. Guess it is time to start the Christmas list. The rusty, smaller can with a spout is a smoker. I do have one of those. In this picture, the hive isn’t painted. You must paint them so they don’t rot outside. Mine is white, and I promised Neva she could paint some flowers on the side. The bees may not care about looks, but me and my girl like a nice presentation, don’t ya know.  The metal devices are tools to open the hive when it is glued together by sap. What I wasn’t counting on is how heavy these hives are when they are filled with bees and honey and wax. Sometimes, you are lifting a box that weighs a hundred pounds! Maybe I’ll write a book called the beekeepers workout.



This is one of the trays of bees we removed from a super to see how they operate. I will teach you more about the details later (this is meerly a pictorial story today.) I held a swarm of bees in one hand that had 4000 buzzing bees clinging to a queen. I reached out and ran my hand along them. They are soft, like petting a kitten. Someone took a picture and promised to e-mail it to us, but I haven’t relieved it yet. Darn. 

Bees were everywhere as we put the swarm into the hive we had built the night before. I had bees in my hair, on my jeans, resting on my shoulder. But it was hard to be nervous when the teacher was standing there in shorts and a t-shirt. No one was stung. Apparently, you don’t need the bee suit unless you are collecting honey, for that is considered an attack. I held a drone (no stinger) and got a good gander at the queen. Fascinating.  Most importantly, I lost that undercurrent of anxiety walking into an area housing 120 thousand bees.  When I told my daughter I imagined working with the bees naked, I wasn’t far off. Often beekeepers don’t bother with suiting up. They just work gently with the bees. Love that.

We had to learn to run a smoker and every student had to show they could work it.  It was easy, yet an important skill. Smoke is like a drug to bees – makes them calm. They also get the munchies. Ha. I know some people that respond the same way to smoking, but that is another story.

The weekend had it’s pitfalls. It rained all day Saturday (our big day) and you can’t open a hive in the rain. So most of what we learned was theoretical. We didn’t get to extract honey. Big disappointment. I already had learned all about the remarkable community of bees and how they work together from reading books. What I wanted was hands on experience. Ah well. I will learn as I go. They are just bugs, after all. And whenever you take on a new hobby you risk a few stings (though not usually so literally as in this hobby).  

Today, in one hour, I am getting my own bees. It is too late in the season to order them from a bee company, because you must reserve orders by January. So, I approached a fellow selling honey at the farmer’s market. He has an apiary, and he said he would be willing to see me bees. (You buy them by the pound – it costs about 60 dollars for three pounds of bees (which is about 4000. Thats .015 cents a bee for the math-inclined.) The fellow (name is Dennis) is dropping them off this morning with a queen and a few shelves of larva. It is a great way to get started. I’m so excited!

I will share more about bees when I have time. Right now, I must go set up my hive. On top of this, LAST NIGHT ONE OF THE PEACOCKS HATCHED AND TWO baby DUCKLINGS. I keep running downstairs to watch the other eggs. I hear peeping inside. Lordy, nature is remakable.
  
Obviously, I have a lot to share, but no time to sit at the computer this morning. I am busy playing with the birds and the bees. Wish me luck on all fronts today.   

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

10 responses »

  1. You look awesome as a Bee-Keeper! I didn’t realize how much effort you have to put into doing all of it. WOW.

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  2. Yeah, you still look like a pin-up girl. The men just have to use their imaginations. :-)I’m excited to visit and see all the cool wildlife on your property. I don’t see much out here except for the occasional squirrel. Sometimes I’ll catch a coyote strolling through my carpool pal’s neighborhood. That’s about it, though. Kind of boring.Well good luck with the beekeeping. I will be sure to show your pictures to my American Lit. class. They’ll enjoy them.

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  3. That much effort? Ha! Perhaps a bee keeper by any other name would’t have been as thorough, but not Ginny! Thanks for posting pictures! They were well worth the wait ūüėÄ Don’t get stung! ps- Will you send me a jar of your special honey brew?

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  4. Send it? Not on your life. Come get it yourself!!!!!

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  5. alright.. but only if you let me collaborate with you on the beekeeper’s workout book? ūüėČ

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  6. Of course. And you would NEVER publish something you didn’t actually try yourself, right? Looking forward to introducing you to bees even more than I enjoyed teaching you about chineese food and that diet coke has only one calorie. ¬†

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  7. But OF COURSE! ;-)Yes, Chinese food, diet coke and honey bees- I have a lot to learn… ps- I just read somewhere that cell phone radiation is killing off the honey bee population, so I am glad to hear you are doing your part to keep them from becoming extinct!

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  8. Yes, I’m doing my part – in every way. (I always leave my cell phone off, which drives people crazy . . . now I have an excuse. . . “it’s for the BEES, don’t ya know”¬†. ) But really, the bee-expert says this isn’t true.¬†The class asked about that.¬† We are bee activists now. You know, bees are important. Without them to polinate¬†everything we (and animals) eat,¬†our world¬†couldn’t survive. Granted, there are moths and such, but they only help out in the job. The honey bees are primary. But don’t you worry. I’m going to save the planet. Ginny to the rescue!¬†¬†¬†

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  9. You are still my #1 Superhero! Leave it to you to save the bees – apparently the economy depends on them.. http://www.entrepreneur.com/management/operations/article178578.html

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  10. Yes, I’ll save the bees. But we should be dang happy that the economy doesn’t depend on ducks, or I’d be public enemy number 1. ¬†

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