Thursday, April 30, 2009

Good bees, nice bees

So after you hive the bees, you have to go back and check on them to make sure they have released the queen, accepted her and that she is a good lay-er.

Today my dad had a pacemaker implanted to strengthen his heartbeat. While that was going on, I was meeting with the new leadership that has been installed by the founders of the company that has been my primary client over the past decade. The founders are backing away from the business, and have hired professionals to take their places. I may keep the business, and I may not. Every one seems to have their own pet lawyers. So much of this business is a matter of trust and confidence and feeling simpaticos. My mind was with my dad, so I wasn't as present as I would have liked to be. Still I think it went well - but whether or not I have been accepted, I won't know for some time.

Area 57 provided outstanding sandwiches and sweets for dessert today. We ate with the writer-farmer's Minnesota Book Award casually placed at the end of the table, looking crimson and crystalline and proud in a humble sort of way. The farmer herself has been out on the coast visiting friends, and slid right back into her routine. This past weekend while she was still in the city by the bay, her cows, her dogs and her chickens keep a watchful eye on everything that moved, hoping it would be Melissa. Soon enough, it was, and not the witch who drags a comet tail of bees behind her where-ever she goes.

After lunch, a sprint up to the beeyard. The beeyard has been in this place for seven years, and the ground has become compacted. It is unattractive, but this is a workspace, not a garden. I started storing my equipment here outside, after taking pity on my brother who had agreed to store it for a year that had stretched into 4. We need a house - for the cat, for me to have a place to store my beekeeping equipment. Oh and to live in, I guess. This past weekend when I left, I tucked some long grass into the small opening of the entrance reducers to discourage the newly hived bees from absconding. Before I left, I pulled the grass free from one of the hives, as an experiment. These bees were vigorous and sassy.

On this return visit, the grass was gone from one of the other hives, presumably pushed out. The bees in this box were feeding very heavily on stores and were quite sedate. This is the box that was probably 2 lbs instead of 3 lbs of bees. I didn't see any foragers coming and going, but the queen was active and had a good pattern, so there will be a good intergenerational mix in a few weeks.

The bees in the third hive had dealt differently with the grass. They pulled it in. I pulled the protruding ends and kept pulling, and pulling, pulling. They had dragged it all inside. This hive had to be torn down completely to check for eggs and acceptance. The queen cage was empty, and there was a lot of burr comb and some lame attempts at supercedure cells. I couldn't find any eggs, but by this time I had put on my veil, because it was starting to rain and the girls let me know they weren't happy about being left out in the wet. It's very hard to find a teeny bee-egg under low leaden skies with bee veil in front of your eyes. Add to that the fact that when you gently blow on the bees to part them so you can see the comb, the veil blocks most of the force and more still of the warmth of your breath, so the technique is not terribly effective. There could be scores of eggs that I didn't see - but I doubt it. I'll have to go down again in a few days to try again.

Back home, change clothes, go to hospital. My dad's complexion is ruddy and warm, not pasty and cool - the pacemaker is working. He is in some pain, but we are assured that pain is normal when you've been cut open and a electronic device shoved it. I asked if it had a dimmer switch so he could speed up and slow down the beat. He laughed and said yes, but he may have been gaming me - he's the master of the long joke. I'll find out later that there actually is or is not such a thing.

Some times it's hard to tell if acceptance has occurred. Sometimes it is clear. Some times you just have to believe and go forward. But next time I go to the beeyard, I'll bring some tissue with me and if I don't find eggs in the third hive, I'll combine the weak hive with #3. Sometimes something completely new is what is needed.


twinsetellen said...

A thoughtful post. Thank you.

MarkN said...

May all of your families enjoy love, peace, good food and good humor!