Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Newbee: 90 degrees + 90 degrees = 180 Degrees of Perspective

Today, on this bright, beautiful, sunny day, I am out of sync.  Just off.  Maybe it's the lack of sleep I have been getting lately.  Or my meals consisting mostly of Swiss cheese, strawberries fresh from the garden eaten while watering and diet coke.  I don't know.  But, I was a klutz in the bee yard and the bees were not happy about it.  It started with a series of bad decisions:
  1. I decided to rotate the hives 90 degrees.  It's not ideal to have to walk and/or work in front of the hives.  Rotating the hives enables me to always be at the back.
  2. I decided to add slatted racks so that the bees can have more room during the heat of the summer.  (After all, it is already 90 degrees here today.)
  3. I decided to start with the feisty hive.
I got the cover off the hive and it was loaded to the brim with bees, three boxes deep.  I thought about stopping because I was short on time, have the workshop preparations on my mind, blah, blah, blah, but continued.  (Why didn't I listen to myself?)  I got the first box off but it was sticking to the next box.  When I yanked it off,  I realized the bees had put honey in the space between the two boxes.  So, imagine if you will, here I am, standing, sweating, shaking (this could be due to my super nutritious diet) with a heavy box in my hands dripping honey all over my beekeeping boots with a frenzy of none too happy bees all around me because they have just been jarred out of their routine, literally.  I find a place to set it down and cover it with a towel to try to subdue the masses.  Second box comes off, so full of bees and honey, but a total mess.  I look in and I see they have put comb and honey everywhere.  What am I going to do?  I don't even know.  I get to the hive box and it is calm, quiet.  I enjoy it long enough to start to wonder if the queen, Juliet, is dead.  Then, the pinging starts.  One after another, they are pinging my veil.  I attempt to walk away calmly and TRIP over a hive body full of bees.  Oy!  As I am sure you can image, I am not so calm anymore, made worse by the fact that several angry bees follow me all the way to my deck which is quite some distance and a very bad sign.  I would have packed it in at this point and called it a day, but the entire hive is torn apart.  I took 10 and headed back out.

I manage to get the bottom board on the new base.  I place the new slatted rack on top.  But, in my hurry, because the pinging has begun AGAIN, I can't even remember if I put it on right!  Oops!  Then, I remove the small hive beetle trap and am surprised to see that it is empty.  Is this a good thing?  I hope so.  Then, I start putting the hive back together.  First up, the hive body.  I slide it on.  Then, the very heavy medium super.  On it goes.  Finally, the last medium super.  Sliding this on, I hear clang, ping, clang.  I realize that because of the honey, there is gravel stuck to the bottom of the super and it has now fallen through the hive.  I hope I did not do damage to Juliet, the queen, or squish too many bees.  But, at this point, I am not going back in to double check.  It is what it is and I have to let this go.  I get the inner cover on and the telescoping cover and it's done.  I take a step back and look and wouldn't you know it, the slatted rack is crooked!  Crooked!  I tried to shift its position, but the hive bodies are so heavy all up on top that it won't budge.  It will just have to be.  Today, I battled the bees, but I also battled my need for perfection.  It will have to do.  I will have to learn to let it go.

I took one look at Eloise and let the girls over there know they are off the hook.  They will get relocated another day.  I have had enough fun for today.  Honestly, I wouldn't mind a little break, coming back in January, when there are fewer bees to harass me!  After I cleaned up the area from the huge mess I had made, I sat in my chair near the hives -a spot that has become my favorite as it is almost hypnotic to watch the bees do their thing - and became re-energized.  I did it.  It wasn't pretty.  It wasn't my best performance.  At a few points, I was afraid.  But, I didn't quit.  I persevered.  This is something I am always telling my kids to do.  I listened to myself and did it.  And, as I sat there, watching the girls, I realized, these bees really are amazing, tolerant insects.  And, I felt very thankful that they didn't sting me.  Not once.  Lots of warnings, but no stings.  Today was a rough day in the bee yard, but not even 5 minutes into watching the girls, I wanted to be back at it.  Talk about 180 degrees!

Juliet on the left and Eloise on the right.

Juliet's new position, rotated 90 degrees.  The white stripe near the bottom is the new slatted rack I added.

Eloise in her usual position with the two new hive stands on the right, waiting for her.  The hive stands are courtesy of the Spruill Art Gallery Garden.  These were blocks removed to make way for the new garden.

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