Posts Tagged ‘Country Living’

Bzzzzzz – Rural Living Story

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

All right, so this isn’t exactly about writing, but I’ll get to that later. Late this afternoon, as my son and I were walking up the driveway after taking down the garbage, we met our neighbor High-Bob (to distinguish him from Low-Bob, the neighbor who lives below us). High-Bob was trying to flush a trout out of his water line — to no avail. Apparently later on he’ll need to hook up the compressor and basically blow the stuck fish out of the pipes. In the meantime, he mentioned that he had a big old mass of bees hanging off a tree behind his house. "Really?" I said. "Can we go look?"

So my son and I walk up to his house to look. Sure enough, there is a massive collection of bees about the size of two footballs end to end, hanging off the slender branch of an olive tree. Said branch looks to be in danger of breaking. That’s a lot of bees. We went back to our house where I discovered that the local paper (publishes weekly) had just run an article about The Bee Lady, who has a farm and raises bees. The article talked about bee swarms such as High Bob’s and how she will come and get them, and that quite often the bees die from the cold. Hives that get too big will split off.

I took her phone number to him and about an hour later, the Bee Lady was at his house. She had the whole bee keeper suit and a long cardboard box with a silver-dollar sized hole in one end. She also had an extra hat which she let me put on. Since it was evening, and cooling down fast, the bees were pretty quiet. I was able to get within five inches of this mass of bees. Oh my gosh.

Basically, she just kind of scraped the whole mass off the tree. (She estimated 35 to 40,000 bees) Most of the mass fell into the box, but not all, as you might imagine. The rest landed on the ground near the box. I had a few moments of wondering if I was going to panic as a few flying around bees landed on my mesh covered face, but I didn’t because, they were outside the mesh. Pretty neat, I have to say.

With most but by no means all of the bees in the box with some slats for them to cling to, she put the lid on the box. Once the Queen is in the box, all the other bees want to be in the box with her, and the ones that aren’t already inside go in through the hole in the end. That part took about 20-30 minutes. Small hole, lots and lots of bees. There was (are you ready for it?) a bona fide bee line into the box. Once or twice she took off the lid and scraped bees inside. They were actually very docile.

I learned lots of fun bee and non-bee related facts. Bees have a body temperature of about 92 degrees F, so they’re pretty warm. This time of year Yellow Jackets are our friends because they eat insect larvae. Skunks are bee predators. Who knew? Later in the year, Yellow Jackets are not our friends. They puncture grapes and eat them and they drown in your coke for you to drink — ICK!!!! So glad I don’t drink soda.

Once the bees were in the box, she plugged the hole, duct-taped the lid on and carried the box to her car. The sound from the box was a vibrating constant buzzzzzzzzz.

She was happy to have High Bob’s bees because a box of bees with a Queen costs about $95.00 and those boxed bees are, it seems, wimpy critters, having been coddled and what have you. Bob’s bees are wild and acclimated to our climate and are much more robust. They will make good honey.

We intend to visit her soon and I intend to buy some honey. Also, it turns out she used to be a patient of my father’s, I went to school with one of her daughters, and my son goes to school with one of her grand daughters.

In writing news, yesterday I sent off my two proposals to my agent who will then send them off to my editor unless there are any more tweaks. Today I got most of a The Great Revision chapter done today; all of a first pass and some good work on a second pass.

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