Poetry Sunday: My mother was like the bees

My mother was like the bees

BY TED KOOSER

because she needed a lavish taste
on her tongue,
a daily tipple of amber and gold
to waft her into the sky,
a soluble heat trickling down her throat.
Who could blame her
for starting out each morning
with a swig of something furious
in her belly, for days
when she dressed in flashy lamé
leggings like a starlet,
for wriggling and dancing a little madly,
her crazy reels and her rumbas,
for coming home wobbly
with a flicker of clover’s inflorescence
still clinging to her clothes,
enough to light the darkness
of a pitch-black hive.

Poetry Sunday: So This Is Nebraska

So This is Nebraska

BY TED KOOSER

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

Morning sunlight glistens on the scaffolding

We Are Awesome at Removing and Relocating Honeybees

It’s not often, Reader, that I write about our bee-removal jobs. Why, you ask? Because the bee removals involve homeowners, and I’m not very comfortable writing about people who never intended to end up on a public blog.

But I spend a good deal of time in the company of some cool people as we remove honeybees and beehives from structures, and I am never ever ever bored by it. Often I am unnerved, but I’m never bored. Anyway, in the event you’d forgotten what I do with much of my time, I’m sharing a few photos of yesterday’s job with you.

Yesterday’s job was cool—not because of the size of the hive but because of the height of the nest.

Kudos to Jerry Hof and Co Inc (Jerry performs the contracting on all these bee removals with me) for constructing such a high and stable scaffold, for exposing the nest, and then for repairing the structure, and to Nicola Mason (a brilliant artist, writer, editor, beekeeper and all-around adventurous woman) for scampering effortlessly up and down and up and down and up and down the 40 ft. scaffolding all morning and for removing all the comb from the hive.

Reader, if you’ve discovered honeybees in your house or in some other structure, if you live in the Greater Cincinnati area, and if you want a team that’s not only great at this stuff but also delights in the work and is fun to spend time with, contact me. Not only can we safely remove the live bees and comb and honey and relocate them to one of our beeyards, but we can put your place back together so no one will ever know we were there.

Morning sunlight glistens on the scaffolding

 

Don't look down

 

Three bees flying home
Beautiful comb containing pollen, brood, larvae, and bees

 

Liz, Nicola, and Jerry at work removing honeybees

Poetry Sunday: Carrefour

Carrefour

BY AMY LOWELL

O You,
Who came upon me once
Stretched under apple-trees just after bathing,
Why did you not strangle me before speaking
Rather than fill me with the wild white honey of your words
And then leave me to the mercy
Of the forest bees.

Poetry Sunday: Proverbial Ballade

Proverbial Ballade

BY WENDY COPE

Fine words won’t turn the icing pink;
A wild rose has no employees;
Who boils his socks will make them shrink;
Who catches cold is sure to sneeze.
Who has two legs must wash two knees;
Who breaks the egg will find the yolk;
Who locks his door will need his keys-
So say I and so say the folk.

You can’t shave with a tiddlywink,
Nor make red wine from garden peas,
Nor show a blindworm how to blink,
Nor teach an old racoon Chinese.
The juiciest orange feels the squeeze;
Who spends his portion will be broke;
Who has no milk can make no cheese-
So say I and so say the folk.

He makes no blot who has no ink,
Nor gathers honey who keeps no bees.
The ship that does not float will sink;
Who’d travel far must cross the seas.
Lone wolves are seldom seen in threes;
A conker ne’er becomes an oak;
Rome wasn’t built by chimpanzees-
So say I and so say the folk.

Envoi

Dear friends! If adages like these
Should seem banal, or just a joke,
Remember fish don’t grow on trees-
So say I and so say the folk.

Poetry Sunday: It’s all I have to bring today (26)

It’s all I have to bring today (26)

BY EMILY DICKINSON

It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget—
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

Poetry Sunday: This Error is the Sign of Love (excerpt)

This Error is the Sign of Love

BY LEWIS HYDE

Man has to seek God in error and
forgetfulness and foolishness. —Meister Eckhart

This error is the sign of love,
the crack in the ice where the otters breathe,
the tear that saves a man from power,
the puff of smoke blown down the chimney one morning, and the
widower sighs and gives up his loneliness,
the lines transposed in the will so the widow must scatter
coins from the cliff instead of ashes and she marries
again, for love,
the speechlessness of lovers that forces them to leave it alone
while it sends up its first pale shoot like an onion
sprouting in the pantry,
this error is the sign of love.

The leak in the nest, the hole in the coffin,
the crack in the picture plate a young girl fills with her
secret life to survive the grade school,
the retarded twins who wander house to house, eating,
’til the neighbors have become neighbors.
The teacher’s failings in which the students ripen,
Luther’s fit in the choir, Darwin’s dyspepsia, boy children
stuttering in the gunshop,
boredom, shyness, bodily discomforts like long rows of white
stones at the edge of the highway,
blown head gaskets, darkened choir lofts, stolen kisses,
this error is the sign of love.

The nickel in the butter churn, the farthing in the cake,
the first reggae rhythms like seasonal cracks in a government
building,
the rain-damaged instrument that taught us the melodies of black
emotion and red and yellow emotion,
the bubble of erotic energy escaped from a marriage and a week
later the wife dreams of a tiger,
the bee that flies into the guitar and hangs transfixed in the
sound of sound ’til all his wetness leaves him
and he rides that high wind to the Galapagos,
this error is the sign of love.

The fault in the sea floor where the fish linger and mate,
the birthmark that sets the girl apart and years later she alone
of the sisters finds her calling,
Whitman’s idiot brother whom he fed like the rest of us,
those few seconds Bréton fell asleep and dreamed of a pit of sand
with the water starting to flow,
the earth’s wobbling axis uncoiling seasons—seeds that need
six months of drought, flowers shaped for the tongues
of moths, summertime
and death’s polarized light caught beneath the surface
of Florentine oils,
this error is the sign of love.

The beggar buried in the cathedral,
the wisdom-hole in the façade of the library,
the corners of the garden that are not harvested,
the hail storm in a South Dakota town that started the
Farmers’ Cooperative in 1933,
the Sargasso Sea that gives false hope to sailors and they sail
on and find a new world,
the picnic basket that slips overboard and leads to the invention
of the lobster trap,
the one slack line in a poem where the listener relaxes
and suddenly the poem is in your heart like a fruit
wasp in an apple,
this error is the sign of love!

 

 


 

Simon and the Monster Hive (before we added box #10)

The Monster Hive is Now Ten-Boxes Tall

I was fully prepared to find the bottom boxes in the Monster Hive emptyish. The Monster Hive is queened by a Zia Queen Bee that I purchased last season, and let me tell you, Reader, it is a phenomenon. I’m buying more of those queens this year.

To my surprise, the hive—which was 9 medium-depth boxes tall when Simon and I dug into it yesterday—was booming. From top to bottom, each and every hive body was brimming with bees and brood and honey.

So, instead of reducing the overall number of stacked boxes in the hive (as I had planned), we added to it! Which now makes the hive 10-boxes tall. Aghhhh.

Ten-boxes tall is probably too tall, Reader, but it’s hard to change something that seems to be working so well. So, we left it alone other than to stake it down against the wind with a good rope.

The next time we dig into the hive…probably in a couple of weeks to harvest the honey in it…we should split the Monster into two hives. Which I hate to do. However, I hate for them to swarm, too, and that’s probably on the horizon in a hive of this size.

Simon and I both got decked out in our full bee suits for our hive visit yesterday…and let me tell you, there were some rambunctious bees to deal with.

 

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Simon and the Monster Hive (before we added box #10)

There was also some yummy yummy honey to deal with! Simon took 2.5 frames, and I ended up with 3.5 frames. Simon weighed his…just over 4 lbs per frame of glorious honey.

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Honey!

Poetry Sunday: How to Foretell a Change in the Weather

How to Foretell a Change in the Weather

BY TED KOOSER

Rain always follows the cattle
sniffing the air and huddling
in fields with their heads to the lee.
You will know that the weather is changing
when your sheep leave the pasture
too slowly, and your dogs lie about
and look tired; when the cat
turns her back to the fire,
washing her face, and the pigs
wallow in litter; cocks will be crowing
at unusual hours, flapping their wings;
hens will chant; when your ducks
and your geese are too noisy,
and the pigeons are washing themselves;
when the peacocks squall loudly
from the tops of the trees,
when the guinea fowl grates;
when sparrows chip loudly
and fuss in the roadway, and when swallows
fly low, skimming the earth;
when the carrion crow
croaks to himself, and wild fowl
dip and wash, and when moles
throw up hills with great fervor;
when toads creep out in numbers;
when frogs croak; when bats
enter the houses; when birds
begin to seek shelter,
and the robin approaches your house;
when the swan flies at the wind,
and your bees leave the hive;
when ants carry their eggs to and fro,
and flies bite, and the earthworm
is seen on the surface of things.

My Newer, Heavier Top-Bar Hives

I like to construct my top-bar hives from rough-cut cedar fencing. The bees like the smell of the cedar—even as I construct, the bees investigate—and they like to hang out on the rough-cut grain. And, unlike pine, the cedar ages so gracefully. Pine gets sort of dull as it ages whereas cedar patinas.

However, this year, a number of my top-bar hives constructed with cedar fencing toppled over in high winds. That is definitely not good. In a few cases, I’ve gone to some elaborate means to keep the hives upright. But I still worry about them when the winds pick up…so, I’ve got to figure out a way to reduce the likelihood that the hives will tip over.

I’ve tried anchoring some of the hives with bungee cords and stakes. Others I’ve weighed down with a million pounds of rocks. But I’ve got to find a better, more aesthetically appealing way (you know, Reader, although my hives are simple, they’re also beautiful to my eye…and that’s very important to me. I need things to look good).

The hives I built years ago of pine don’t topple…probably because those hives are heavier. I think the lightness of the cedar fencing is at the root of the toppling problem…so, when I had some free time yesterday afternoon,  I headed to Home Depot where I found heavier cedar. The new cedar lumber is gorgeous…it’s rough cut on one side and smooth on the other. It smells awesome. It’s thicker and heavier than the fencing, which will provide the bees with more insulation. Yes, it’s twice as expensive (still not enough to freak out over), but I think it’s worth it for the aesthetics, for the security it gives the bees, and for my own peace of mind.