Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Minding Your "Bees and Cues"

I suppose if you make a conscious decision to confront your demons- things that you fear in one way or another- you may as well get them all over with at once. Well, Mr. Man, I had no more intention of going up against a hive of ticked off honey bees than I did the extreme height (and swaying back and forth) of the observation tower. But opportunity is where you find it- and once again it came knocking. With all their interests and activities, Dick and Sarah somehow find the time to be rather accomplished bee keepers along with everything else. So when Dick offered to take his mom (Marilyn) out to the blueberry barrens to check on one of their hives, there was never any doubt that I should and would go along to capture this on "film" for the blog. He had two bee keeper suits- not three- and while I was determined to get this done, I was equally as determined to take care of business from a distance and not get attacked by bees suffering from a bad case of hyper annoyance. Off we went. Like the tower the day before, it really wasn't so bad! Dick had Marilyn keep the bees on the mellow (all things being relative) side with a fogger that burned cardboard egg crate pieces to produce the smoke to settle the hive. It worked well and I could get just close enough for some decent, if not perfect, shots- given the point and shoot camera I happened to have on me at the time.

Piece by piece they disassembled the hive and examined it drawer by drawer, tray by tray. The bees were doing great, comb was building the way it should in a healthy hive, and the top drawer was dripping with honey already. With continued progress between now and the Fall, there should be some honey to harvest over and above what the hive will need to over-winter. Hey, worker bees gotta eat too, and winter can be long here.

Marilyn got an up close and personal introduction to each phase of the hive as first they took it apart and then as they built it back again. While the bees got a tad roiled from time to time, the suits were adequate protection for the two of them and at 10 to 12 feet away, I never felt like I was pushing my luck. A good thing.

After this terrific experience, everyone was just fine. If you "mind your P's and Q's" as well as your "bees and cues," I guess this is a pretty non threatening activity. For sure it was an unexpected and much appreciated look inside a hive. We did this and I am writing this during the 08 Winter Olympics. There may not be any Olympic Bee Keeping- but do these two look like they just finished an Olympic Fencing match....or What???? Touche!

Another of their hives is "no more." We all know that Winnie the Pooh is a harmless and lovable honey-eating bear. But real bears love honey too and one of their hives was smashed to bits by a Maine Black Bear intent on tasting that honey before they did. Unfortunately, the bees were destroyed along with the hive- so this one was lost. Sarah who does some teaching of science and marine biology at the lab at Maine Maritime Academy, and who does a weekly radio piece on Public (Community) Radio on WERU, did one of her radio lectures on the demise of the hive. You can listen to her tell the story in her own words by clicking on this link to her radio "column" called The World Around Us. Click the "PLAY" arrow ON THE FOLLOWING LINK once the link opens-it's an audio archive.

Slide Show - Examining The Hive: Dick and Marilyn

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