A Space Is Prepared, and the Bees Fill It

We spent much of the weekend on our farm in Waco, Kentucky. Now that Deb owns the farm outright, we feel we can begin making a few slight changes in the way things work down there. For instance, I think we’re gonna ask all the relatives to come and get whatever they want from the old farmhouse and the shed and the barn; whatever’s left that we don’t want will go up in flames in a bonfire the likes of which Madison County hasn’t seen in a long long time. Keep your eyes on the sky the day following Labor Day.

Why clear all that stuff from the house, the shed, the barn? Sometimes you just need to make some room. Creativity requires room. How can new things come to you, Reader, if there’s no space in which to hold it?

So, Brent (the guy who leases the farm to run some cattle) has recently changed his life. He’s made room in it for new things, and he’s ready to keep bees. We’re thinking of starting about 10 hives down there next spring. The farm is a 2-hour drive from here, and because we get down there only about once a month, it’s important to have someone keeping an eye on the bees…and Brent seems perfectly delighted at that prospect. He’s decided on a spot against a fence for the hives. He’s planning to seed a field in clover. For whatever reason, a reason I have no need to understand, Brent needs bees. Just as I did.

You know, Reader, I find it quite fascinating that some people—people such as Brent and me (and perhaps even you)—become ready. I don’t know how to describe it, but I can spot it right away. A light appears in the eye. A space is held open in the body for it. Other people make polite conversation, but those who are ready cannot be satisfied with small talk. Might as well go ahead and buy those people a smoker of their own.

 

Deb (in muck boots) hauls a sheet of barn roofing through the field

A Sucker for Ugly

My aesthetics are evolving. You know, when I first told Deb I wanted to keep bees, she wasn’t thrilled. Why? She didn’t want to see a line of towering white boxes on the hill in our yard. And I get that. I don’t like the white boxes either, so I painted my boxes a few different colors. I’ve settled on a couple of colors that I like, and now I paint all my boxes some variation of those. (Every now and then, I throw in a shade of blue that I’m not crazy about because Deb likes it. Gotta do it.)

However, I’ve started to like the way the Langstroth hives look unpainted. I like the way they weather…especially if the boxes are jointed together…because the joints weather a different shade than the flat parts.

All of this to say that since I first learned of top-bar hives (TBH), I’ve been drawn to the ugly ones. The ugliest ones. The very ugliest ones. None of those pretty hives for me.

Right now, I’m still buying some lumber, and I’m still using power tools. But TBHs are awesome because they can be built without power tools, and I’m working my way there. I think I’ll like the looks of the hives once I go completely powertool-less (I had to make up the punctuation of that last word…no dictionary recognizes what I’m trying to accomplish with it).

This most recent hive was constructed of cedar fencing. The roof is a piece of barn roofing that flew off our Kentucky barn. When we get back to the farm, I’m gonna scavenge the barn (which is falling down) for old siding and use it to build the next TBH iteration.

They may kick me out of my nice neighborhood for getting so ugly.

Deb (in muck boots) hauls a sheet of barn roofing through the field
Top-bar hive with barn roofing
And here's the top-bar hive with its reclaimed roof