Thursday, October 16, 2014

B E E utiful

I have been enriching my pockets and my brain the last few weeks working as an assistant beekeeper.

I have always been interested in beekeeeping, but other things have taken priority and I have never gotten around to  purchasing the hives and bees.

SO when I saw an opportunity to work with one of the largest beekeepers, I went for an interview.

The pay is minimal, but I was intrigued with the opportunity to work in a situation with somone highly experienced in a field with which I have limited knowledge.

I started out in the extracting room, processing hundreds, no thousands, of pounds of honey, super after super, frame after frame.

I had an opportunity to learn about the scourge of beekeeping and the preventative measures, varacoa mites , and followed the beekeeper from hive to hive inserting mites strips in between frames decked out in full bee outfits and marveled at co workers going along in bee coats and no gloves.

I went a few weeks without suffering any stings, but the occasional oops came along here and there, the sting mitigated by promptly scraping the still pumping venom stinger out with a fingernail or other flat object-I found hive tools came in handy.-

Then there was the day I helped unload 5 thousand pounds of honey supers out of the back of the truck back from up north - I disdained bee coat and went with a pair of nitrile gloves, and got stung three times in the back of the neck, once in the thigh, once in the ankle, and once in the hand.  Those were angry bees that day.

I have sorted frames to go south-big commercial operations move the bees south for the winter to get an early start in the spring.  I will stay behind at the shop through the bitter cold building equipment for next season.

I look forward to building nucs in the spring- nuclear hives made up of a queen and workers, brood and frames, a jump start from the typical "package" bees which you basically dunp in a bare hive and start from scratch.

Yesterday I made up "bee feed" different from the bee candy I worked on last week.  This is basically sugar and water, and I mixed 100 gallons of water to a thousand pounds of sugar.  That was into a tank with a small opening which is partially blocked by a large recirculatling hose, so yeah, fun.

Outside with the polite bees and yellow jackets and bald faced hornets all trying to get a sip.

Today we went off to the bee yards and filled the feeders.  Beekeeepers keep their bees all over the place.  We went to three bee yards, they have about thirty or so colonies in each one.  So the beekeeper goes along, opens them up, assesses them like a physician, and we come behind filling the feeders and picking up extraneous equipment,

At one point the beekeeper and I doubled back and started swapping covers around for shipping, so we were pulling the covers off the hives and switching them around.  I picked one up and the bees just boiled out.  Then I realized I had a gap between my coat and glove because the bees started stinging the crap out of my wrist..

So I made a hasty retreat, but the bees came right along with me.  I couldn't take the other glove off to scrape the stings off my wirst, because I was covered in bees.  So I picked up a piece of wood and scratched them out, but my whole wrist is swollen and hurts still.  Those darn bees dove right into the glove I removed  so I was shaking that out and I could feel the stingers scratching me on the back of the bee coat.

The beekeeper tossed me his gloves and went along barehanded-two days out of hernia surgery- in cold sweats- and barked orders at me to gather up the equipment.

Gotta love those tough Mainers.


*~*~*~*~Tonia said...

That does sound interesting!! Beekeeping is something that I have always just viewed from a distance! lol
Just doesn't seem right kids getting so grown up!... I am mean seriously.. I am not old enough.. Till I look in the mirror... Lol

*~*~*~*~Tonia said...

*** I mean Seriously.. Not I am mean seriously..Lol I am thinking I shouldn't be typing...

*~*~*~*~Tonia said...

Oh and I also meant to say... To bad the arranged marriages don't happen :)