Today up here in NW Indiana we are enjoying a balmy day of over 50 degrees.
I thought this would be a good chance to check on the bees - and see if I saw any signs of
life about the hives.
So - I went a knockin'. On the hives that is.
The last time I did this tom foolery in January, I got stung in the neck.
I only saw three sluggish bees flitting about. It has me worried. I think it's just too damp and dreary for them to venture out. That or their all dead. I'm going with my first theory.
I've always lived life with a wide-eyed wonder - a devil may care attitude - and the thought that if anything was worth doing, that it was worth doing poorly in the beginning.
Let's talk about beekeeping.
How in the Sam hill I ever got interested in beekeeping - I don't know. I didn't even like honey that much. I'd never been exposed to anyone that kept bees - I'd never actually seen a honey bee - but only bumblebees, wasps, and hornets - which everyone calls bees.
24 years ago when we moved into this old farmhouse - I visited the library.
I brought home a slew of books - all about living self sufficiently on a few acres.
I was hooked.
I wanted to slaughter hogs and spin wool by kerosene lamp - I wanted to raise chickens and double dig garden beds.
Then I came across a beekeeping book.
I could be a bee wrangler!
The thought of somehow controlling hundreds of thousands of live, stinging insects - well, let's just say - I found it downright intriguing. Plus, the added benefit it would add to the garden.
Let's be real here.
I'm a poser. Glenco tells me this all the time. I'm a poser, and I'm all about the gear. Beekeeping has gear. I loved it. I loved the idea of seeing lovely boxes of bees interspersed around my perennials - I didn't necessarily want to do all the work involved with beekeeping - I just wanted to look like I did it.
How could you not want this?
Well, 22 years later - I finally got around to wrangling those bees.
I ran into a guy at a garden center who said he was on his way to a beekeeper's meeting and he invited me to tag along. I didn't tag along - but I did take all the information.
Well why not. Now or never. Put your money where your mouth is.
And money there is - it's a bit costly to get started. The hives average $120 each, the bees - a 3lb starter package is $75 (or was when I got them), then you have your bee suit, your smoker and hive tool.
One week later I was working a bee hive in my bare hands and shaking like a...well I don't know what I was shaking like - but use your imagination.
As most things go in life, at least in my life - the reality of it is quite different than the picture I had in my mind. I am still holding on to this fantasy picture and plan on re-arranging my beehives, and painting them a vivid violet color and painting 'bee happy', 'bee kind', etc. on them - and surrounding them with a bee friendly perennial garden. Oh. yes. I. am.
Anyone familiar with the housing projects in Chicago - called Cabrini Green?
It's been torn down - here is a photo when it was still around.
Well...I'd like to introduce to you what I call 'Cabeeni Green'.
These are my ghetto hives.
Mismatched, duct taped, ill fitting lids, one's even sitting on a flipping lawn chair!
I'm embarrassed to be posting this up on the Interweb.
I am the clutziest beekeeper in the history of beekeeping.
It's hot, heavy work y'all.
Sweat is stinging your eyes, and you can't wipe it cause you have a huge veil on your head.
Imagine carrying an oozing 60lb box of bees and honey, blinded from stinging sweat in your eyes, using only your fingertips.
I've stumbled and fallen with boxes of bee frames, still with bees in them.
I've been stung.
Please don't complain about the price of raw, local honey ever again.
You then get to bring that hot mess up into your kitchen and start to extract it and bottle it up.
By the time you are done - the cat is covered in it - it's under your stove, on the light fixtures and on every single surface in your kitchen.
And there's always a rogue bee in the house - always.
But you know what?
It's all worth it when you taste that incredible nectar! Especially when it's still warm from the sun.
I had never tasted real honey before - it's intoxicating!
There's something about beekeeping - you don't keep them - they keep you.
I find myself completely relaxed and in such a happy state of mind when I'm out in the hives.
When you first pop the lid off - and hear the happy hum of the bees - you smell the beeswax and honey - it's hypnotizing. They are truly amazing, fascinating little creatures.
And then they get mad and sting you.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Hey - I have answered questions and comments on my last post - let's see how this goes. I know you actually have to come back to read them - bummer, huh?
Oh - and you all should have gotten your Caper Bags (Wendi P - I haven't got your email address! I still have your bag sitting here - Hedy - I haven't gotten your check yet)
Aaron leaves a week from today to Vegas.