"Is it worse to be scared than to be bored, that is the question."—Gertrude Stein

I resigned from my job. I resigned from my job without a plan for another. I think I may be finished working for other people. I am trusting the universe on this one, and so I’m focused squarely on the bees. The bees are in front of me right now, and I’ve learned to handle what’s in front of me without looking too far ahead and borrowing trouble. This should lead to something. Right, Reader?

Each day that I’ve been free from the old job, I’ve accomplished at least one thing to move TwoHoneys Bee Co. toward a business that will employ me full time. And wouldn’t it be great if TwoHoneys could eventually employ more people, too: students, interns, apprentices, carpenters, contractors, web masters, designers, marketers. I like it.

I envision teaching a university-based, experiential-learning beekeeping course…a writing course…a course in composition; then, I envision taking that course abroad…say, to Kenya or Tanzania to learn how people in Africa work with and earn a sustainable living with Africanized bees.

I see myself in a small storefront operation. A storefront well lit with natural light. And bare, wooden floors (I’ll want to walk around barefoot on those floors in the summertime). Walls filled with jars of honey and beekeeping equipment. A few beehives out back.  I’ll drive an old pick-up truck with TwoHoneys Bee Co. painted on the doors. People will call me the Bee Lady.  People will say, “Call her. She’ll do it.” I will respond, “Yes” when called. I will figure out a way.

 

I Should've Worn a Hat

I went out to the beehives at 3:15 PM yesterday in order to film for you the young Amazon bees orienting. They were so active that I wanted you to see them, too, Reader. I got a brief video of them, but then a bee went in my  ear and freaked me out. I slapped and slapped to get it out.

Then I heard more bees. In my hair. By this time I was running through the yard slapping. And getting stung. (Yes, Reader, I am well aware that this slapping and freaking out doesn’t help the situation. I’m not stupid.) I picked up an old sweatshirt laying in the yard and began slapping my head with that. I got stung about 6 times—in my head and ear and neck.

Once the stinging stopped, I realized that all this slapping had flung my glasses off my face. Probably deep into the woods. Deb and I have searched and searched and we can’t find them. We even went out there at night to see if the beam from a flashlight would reflect off them. No.

I am now wearing very very old glasses. I look odd, and I can’t read.

But here’s your damn video. (Once again, I forgot to turn the camera sideways for the wider view. I don’t know why I can’t remember to do that. Sorry.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0l4G4gVlU0

Unleveled hives

Transitions Are Tricky

I spent a little bit of time yesterday leveling my beehives. Why do that, you ask? Well, I’m slowly shifting from using foundation in my frames to using only foundationless frames, that’s why. And when bees build comb into thin air (and it is beautiful and perfect comb…I don’t know why we ever ever ever ever switched to using preformed, recycled beeswax as a guide) they let gravity lead them. And gravity always pulls one way…if the hive isn’t level, the comb will not be straight in relation to the hive. See? It could get quite messy.

So, as nice and “homey” as those hives look up on the unlevel hill, I had to straighten them out.

From Home Depot I bought enough cinder blocks (of various sizes) and 8′ 4×4’s to construct a platform for the colonies. I have enough room on this platform to add one more hive; and I have enough material to construct another platform. Deb’s gonna freak out when she learns we now have material enough to hold 8 hives.

I also raised the hives a little bit. This will keep the rascal mice out and the skunks and possums from disturbing the bees.

In the after-leveling picture, you’ll see a blue tarp in front of the hives…I’m killing the tall grasses that grow right in front of the boxes because I think it may be disrupting flights.

I’m transitioning all around…from using foundation to foundationless frames; from 10-frame deeps and 10-frame shallow supers to all 8-frame mediums; and from bottom-entrance hives to top-entrance hives. These transitions will take some time, but I think they all make great sense. So, once I move to top entrances, the grass won’t matter too much because the bees won’t need to reach the bottom of the hives. But, for now, I have to kill the grass and raise the boxes.

Unleveled hives

Don’t you think the raised cover below makes Tomboys (center hive) look like a little tomboy with her baseball cap tilted back? I love it. She looks like my friends do in the summertime…happy, relaxed, sweaty, worn out.

Leveled and raised hives

I’ll be glad when I get to lower the new platform a little bit. I don’t love seeing it, but I guess it’s the best alternative for now.

View from the yard of the leveled hives

Junking Up the Place

I mean, if you already have two hives, what’s the big deal about adding a third, right? That’s what I’m thinking. I’ve been watching some YouTube videos about beekeeping (to which I will probably contribute once I know something), and some of those people have piles of hives in small spaces. There’s one guy in particular whom I like a lot…he’s from South America or Cuba or Mexico, I think…I can’t quite figure out where he’s keeping his bees, but in some of his videos his hives are crazy tight and hilariously high, and something about that appeals to me.

But Deb tells me that I can’t keep my third and future hives on the hill behind our house with our other two. She doesn’t want it looking like a junk yard back there. She said maybe I should find a farm and put them there. I’m thinking I can hide them behind the garage.

Here’s a brief “How to Smoke Bees” video starring my new favorite beekeeper…for some reason, I call him “Santiago.” I love this one because of the pink or lavendar pick-up truck parked near these hives. Aren’t we having fun with this?!

 

UPDATE: Okay, so I’ve learned that this beekeeper’s name is Jorge Gomez, and he keeps his bees in Austin, TX. Which is where my parents live! And I’m in Austin several times each year! I’m gonna make it a point to find Jorge Gomez and visit with him.