Sunday, May 20, 2007

Beekeeping

I followed a link from Instapundit and found this story about a hive of bees whut migtrated into an attic and made a hell of mess.

My Daddy and his partner Chester used to keep bees. As a teenage boy I was along for some of their beekeeping exploits. Chester was the guy to call if a hive of bees swarmed. He'd show up in a beekeepers suit with the hat and veil and a beekeepers smoke generator and he'd put on his gloves and put those bees in a cardboard box for transport to their new home. It was quite exciting.

Then, he'd put those bees in a new hive, stack some honey boxes, called supers on top and take them out into the country somewhere so they could make honey. Farmers thought honeybees were great, as there is no other creature in the world as good at pollinating as a honeybee. Getting permission to put a couple of hives in the shade near a field was never a problem.

Twice a year, we'd go out and collect those hives and bring them back to the shop to steal the honey. We'd do that at night while the bees were asleep. Sleeping bees are fairly docile.

One night we had been collecting hives and were headed back to Alex when the trailer had a flat. We were just outside of Pineville, LA at the conversion of US Highway 71 and 165, an area locals called The Crazy Quilt. There was a small Mom and Pop truck stop there. We pulled in. I commenced jacking up the trailer while Chester and Daddy started looking for a tire, (Spares?? Surely you jest!)

Something woke the bees and they came outside to see what the commotion was about. Of course, under the lights of the truck stop far from town, they immediately began to circle like some huge living cloud and got stuck, three deep, on the plate glass window of the diner. Someone asked Dad how many bees were walking around on the plate glass and he ventured that there were probably a quarter million bees loose.

Eventually, we negotiated for a tire and got it mounted and left that truck stop. No, we didn't collect our bees. We had the queens and we had enough workers in the hives to make more workers and it was time to re-queen the hives anyway. Re-queening a hive is stressful for the hive, not to mention for the elder queen. You don't need many worker bees around for the process.

This story doesn't have a satisfying ending. I've looked everywhere, and just can't find one. We'll suffice it to say that I've probably fallen in more honey than the average person eats in a lifetime. I get my honey nowadays in the grocery store.

1 comment:

j said...

Try honey on your breakfast cereal or oatmeal instead of sugar.