Sunday, May 29, 2011

Facing my Fears

Well folks, I've done the unthinkable! Last Thursday I went INTO the Bee yard with Dan the Bee guy. He was stepping up for Jerry, who has not had time for the bees since he's working full time. And so, with Dan's tutelage I faced my fears, donned the bee suit and went in. I was dressed in Jerry's bee outfit (which by the way does not win any awards for fashion) and felt confident that NOTHING could penetrate it. Truthfully, the bee suit is made up of camo pants (quite thick) and a white hooded number along with the hat, veil and leather gloves. I did think at one point that if this is something I'm going to make a habit of, we've got to work on the fashion aspect of it. But anyway, once I was suited up with all of it (including the gloves which were quite big) and with Dan's help tying off the veil, I stepped through the now opened electric fence, again thanking Dan for his expertise. There is lots to learn if I am ever going to take this on myself, without assistance. Getting INTO the yard is the first thing. I wouldn't know how to declassify the electric fence, and never felt the need to pay attention, even though Jerry tried to explain it every step of the way. "Go into the Bee Yard? NEVER!" I thought. Bees being my nemesis (what is plural for nemesis? Nemesises?) But with the bee yard languishing and all that honey going to well, the bees, I figured I better get with the program. And so Dan agreed to help me out and show me the ropes so to speak. Inside the bee yard, the drone of the bees got quite loud, surprisingly. I didn't think that bees could make that much noise. Having run from the drone of one single bee, I never gave the multitudes a chance to make any noise, and noise they make. It is truly a sound unlike any other I've ever heard. Dad loaded the smoker and gave that to me, to handle while he uncovered the top box. There are technical names for all of this but forgive me, I was terrified and not really paying attention to the small details. Mostly, I was looking for my point of egress in the event of a swarm. Dan was pleased to see that our hive was very active with apparently docile bees. A little smoke will do that. To us all. But I digress. The bees came out of the hive, interested in this intruder, but not really too concerned. As I said, I was smoking the hive to make them more concerned about the smoke than the intruder, as is the purpose of the smoker. Dan had to warn me a few times that we were interested in "gently" smoking the hive, not frying the bees, gently being the key word. But as I was learning, the smoke was effective and became my "go to" tool whenever fear got the best of me. This was a very foreign place for me, standing still while bees swarmed about me. Normally, you would be seeing my dust, but I was determined to do this. I stood still and let them check me out, praying that every point of closure was indeed, closed. I don't know how I would have reacted if a bee had gotten INSIDE the bees suit, as they have been known to do on occasion. I like to think I would have professionally ignored it, as these are the makers of the honey, the holy grail. But something tells me I would have squashed it pretty readily. I guess we won't know until it happens. I was at first breathing a little heavily, with the smell of fear in every breath, but I eventually got a little calmer and began to really watch what Dan was doing. The inside of an active beehive is an unbelievable sight. You cannot be prepared by watching it on the TV screen, as I have done many times, because the drone is of stacked beehives, not only the one you're peering into. There are virtually thousands of bees, working at their jobs. Most are uninterested in the large persons standing over their hive, and continue on their way. You can view all types of bees at work. Drones and workers are readily visible throughout their metamorphosos. We were searching for the Queen, who I would not have recognized without some more instruction, but we looked unsuccessfully throughout the entire hive. We were cleaning up the hive for splitting, moving some of the trays of honeycomb into a new box (again, I will know these names eventually) for splitting into a new hive. So taking a full beehive of bees and moving half into a new hive, hopefully bringing the Queen over with them, was our job. Somehow, the old hive will produce a new queen and continue their labors. That is how it works. I felt quite productive by the end, scraping the sides of old honeycomb and making room for the new bees. It seemed at this point in time that our bees are doing beautifully without our help. That makes me happy. It means we have provided our bees with a good environment to do what they do naturally, produce honey. I hope to have a nice harvest at the end of the summer, with enough for us, and enough to sustain our bees through the winter. See how I have changed my terms in to "Us" instead of "Me" and "Them". It happens quite naturally, and although I don't know what I would do without a bee suit, as Dan seems perfectly happy without (he's a little nuts that Dan) I was not as fearful coming out as I was going in. Mission Accomplished! As we speak I am observing a Turkey walking around our campfire and enjoying the seed that I have planted around the pond. I am a lover of nature, and this just beats all. We've never seen a turkey this close on our property. We assumed the scent of three dogs was enough to keep them away-apparently not! It has been a great week. Next week, we're back into the bee yard to make sure our changes have been well received. I hope so. I kinda like those bees. Who knew? (Pictures of these adventures will follow-as soon as Allison wakes up and shows me how to upload the new camera!)

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