Who would have thought it? Seven years have passed and what began as my opportunity to finally peek inside a box has become my passion. My solitude. Therapy in a sense. You’ve seen them. The boxes. Wooden boxes stacked to different heights, hiding in backyards or sometimes clustered on the edge of a field. Often disguised in white, these wooden structures are home to the most incredible life-giving creatures we have on the planet. The HONEYBEE. The beauty of these bugs never stops amazing me. Something so small but so incredibly important to each of our everyday lives.
Deep inside my mind, I really did want to see inside that box. Having never even talked with a keeper of the bees, I found myself registered for beekeeping 101. Why? I had the time, kids left home and career was solid, so time to take on another challenge. Two simple choices in my life at that time…1. tear out and rebuild a bathroom or 2. become a beekeeper. My husband seemed to be convinced that beekeeping was my calling and told me he thought this would be more rewarding…I suspect some prior plumbing hiccups was clouding his judgment.
Little did he know these little ladies would begin to take over our everyday life. For that winter and spring, I attended classes, read books, placed equipment orders, built boxes, painted, and prepared for that day that I would finally get to go inside “my box”. Now all I really wanted was one hive and the chance to learn about the bees, but my teachers said you must have two hives to even begin to make this work so I doubled my plans.
Driving up the mountain road in NC, I could feel my heart pounding and excitement pulsing through my body. Hubby escorted me to Brushy Mountain Bee Farm to retrieve my two 3# packages of future friends. As of this point, it had not yet occurred to me what the f*** I had really stepped into. A world of wonder and potential death. Still only anticipating the wonder and goodness I entered this incredible world. BEEKEEPING. After a short demonstration on how to move these 12,000 buzzing bodies from a screened box into a new home, we jumped in our car and headed out. This was going to be a piece of cake. As we drove down the mountain, I felt that lump in my throat and burning in my chest, you know the feeling … “what have I done”. Well there was no turning back. I was on the edge of the cliff! Success was the only answer.
Jump forward a day and we arrive home (later than anticipated, but with a new Sears car tire). It was getting toward dusk and the girls had been in the box for about 3 days so they needed to be moved into the big box that I had prepped and waiting. Thinking the transition would take just minutes, silly me jumps into the spanking new white bee-suit, grabs the poorly lit smoker, and sparkling new bee tool as well as a spray bottle of sugar water and carries the of bees out to the new apiary (bee yard).
Now, in my head the thoughts were racing…” just pop off the wooden cover, remove the feeder, the queen cage, and carefully dump my friends into the new equipment”. Easy yes? Well on slides in class this went exactly as expected, but at dusk with a smoker that wasn’t smoking the process was more challenging…thousands of little creatures each with six legs and a stinger who had not been to class and obviously had not studied the process. After a few scares and some beginner’s tears, my beloved came to the rescue. Two stings (those were his not mine) the girls were mostly transferred into the hive. The queen cages tucked into the hive and covers put on top. As we walked away, my heart beat returned too normal and my nerves calmed and I transformed into a BEEKEEPER.
Now if you have not met a group of backyard or sideline beekeepers, you have missed out on LIFE itself. Each has stories, opinions, ideas, facts, and something to share. Not always good and never really crystal clear. So, like pooh bear there have been many adventures along the way, and it is through these blogs that I will share this journey.