Saturday, May 22, 2010

A thousand buzzing awesomes

Yesterday I did one of the coolest things I've ever done. I headed over to Lamppost Farm to help Steve do some work, but before we got started he wanted to check on his two beehives. A few months back he'd been awarded a grant that allowed him to attend beekeeping classes and then ultimately be given two working hives and two colonies of honey bees to go with them. If you've been following the news, you know the danger our country is in regarding honey bees. So for him to get this grant was a wonderful thing for the farm and what they're doing there. I was more than a little scared to check out the hives with him, but I didn't admit it and agreed to join him.

I put on a hat with a mesh veil around it and then put on leather gloves. It didn't seem like enough clothes based on my experience watching beekeeping on TV, but Steve had one of those handheld smokers that I knew would do something to the bees and was supposed to keep their attention off of us and on the smoke. It seemed to be a decent alternative to a full beekeeping suit. Still nervous I'd do something to anger the bees and not sure what I would do if I lost my nerve, we headed towards the hives.

Steve spread the smoke into the hive boxes before opening them up and then again after the vertical internal hives had been exposed. The smoke didn't seem to bother the bees, and they didn't seem to mind him pulling their homes out into the open, so he put the smoker down. Now I was extra nervous we didn't have the safe-guard of the smoke, so I stepped back and watched Steve work. He spent the next five or so minutes looking for eggs, larva, comb development, and honey. And then it happened.

He wanted to see another one of the vertical hives at the same time so he turned to me and handed me the one in his hand. Instinctively I reached out and gently took it from him. The twelve by eighteen inch piece of wood I was holding was alive with activity and it literally was vibrating in my hands from the movement of wings and bodies from what seemed like a thousand honey bees. It was so intense. There was no fancy beekeeping suit or smoke between the lives of those bees and my own; it was just us.

I held it up, turned it this way and that, and examined every aspect of the bees in front of me. At one point my face was mere inches away from a thousand other tiny faces. And in that moment there was no fear. I was not afraid of being stung or hurt or injured. They were not afraid of me or my hat or my hands. For a few precious minutes we were alone together in a big, giant world. Before we had started Steve gave me a basic explanation of how bees can sense fear and the technique he used to overcome his fear. He stated he approaches the bees in a state of awe and it calms him. In that moment I found myself in that state of awe.

Sorry if that all sounded cheesy, folks. Words can never fully express the intensity of beekeeping. I loved it and in that moment wouldn't have traded anything to be in that place. It was so amazing. Many thanks to Steve for letting me experience it. If any of you reading this ever get the chance, try it. I promise it will change your life.

9 Comments:

Blogger Kimmy said...

I have a completely irrational fear of bees. You couldn't pay me to do what you did. Though it would be a nightmare for me, it sounds like a great experience for you! Glad you were able to have that chance.

How are you feeling btw?

3:00 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I have a very RATIONAL fear. When I worked at the nursery, I cut the top off a yellow-jacket nest and was stung 17 times from the knees down. Four days later I cut into another one and was stung 14 more times on the back and shoulders and arms. Those little yellow bodies scare the hooey out of me. But there was something so intimate about what I was doing it took all the fear away. It was so cool.

Health wise, I'm doing much better. I planned on doing an update post next week after I went to the doctor. I still have some lingering foot/ankle issues, but otherwise I'm doing really good. Thanks for asking, Kimmy.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Jeff and Melissa Blair said...

So cool! Jeff has a friend that does bee keeping. I have never been out to the hives, but I have been there for the honey making process.

10:56 AM  
Blogger jen said...

wow. what an awesome experience!! glad you are feeling bettery too!

8:37 PM  
Blogger jen said...

that's 'feeling better'. though 'bettery' is a kind of fun word ;)

8:37 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I think I like bettery better than better. (Yikes.) So from now on, I'm feeling bettery. :)

9:15 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

That sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing.

10:31 AM  
Blogger *Austin Mommy* said...

It's those moments in creation that are truly AWEsome!! Sounds like it really was amazing for you. VERY cool!

And SO GLAD to hear that you're feeling bettery! :)

2:14 PM  
Blogger Dave and Betsy: said...

I would've totally pooped my pants. I'm a bee advocate but I have a very serious and silly fear of them.

Bets

9:03 AM  

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