The HELLO KITTY Beehive Arrives
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
In this case -- the deal is located to your immediate left. Please contain yourself. I said -- STOP LAUGHING! Are you finished? Good.
I thought you indicated you were finished?
When I first set my sights on aquiring a colony of bees or beehive, I thought this investment would mean no more than a loss of $100. Boy -- I was I off on that guess. WAY OFF. Bees aren't cheap. If you want the pleasure of your very own hive in your very own backyard, well, you're going to "pay the piper." Only, in this case, we paid the "beekeeper."
When Venus and I learned of the rather eye-popping price for acquiring a hive last March, she saw her chance for a deal and jumped right at it. I could have the bees -- no matter what the price -- as long as she got to choose the color and theme of the beehive.
I figured that was a good compromise at the time, until she informed me that she wanted to paint the hive in a shade of "Hello Kitty" pink, with "Hello Kitty" stencils to boot. The first concern that came to my mind was how badly would Bill Bird get stung from a new colony of bees who are suffering from extreme embarassment. Not many queens get to live in a Hello Kitty beehive. In fact, this is probably the first one I've ever seen.
But -- a deal's a deal -- right? And so Venus set about aquiring the right shades of pink (Shy Little Piglet) for the hive cover, hot pink for the bow plus your standard black and white colors for the Hello Kitty face.
Now, as you can probably clearly tell from the photos, neither of us have an artistic bone in our body. Before you snidely remark, "Oh REALLY?" (thanks Mr. Owl), understand that painting a Hello Kitty stencil is no easy task -- especially when you're using exterior paint on a rough, wooden surface like a beehive. Venus and I aren't very good with a paintbrush to begin with, and after four or five drinks, our painting talents decline to the level of "absolutely criminal."
A friend, who recently viewed these hive photos, went on to snidely remark: "Who painted this -- your four-year old nephew?" Gee, thanks Colleen. BTW, your free beer supply at Club Raven just dried up. How do you like them apples?
The first task was to paint the entire hive (exterior of the hive only) a shade of pink. That was easy enough. The fine folks at Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies warned us that painting the inside of the hive was not a good idea, as bees don't like the inside of a hive painted. And they would probably expend energy to chew the stuff off anyway.
We didn't want them expending energy chewing off paint. We want the queen to expend energy by laying eggs, and other bees to expend energy by pollinating crops and making HONEY! Besides, we didn't argue. That's less to paint anyway.
But, the hardest part of this project came with the stencil. First -- there are no real Hello Kitty stencils on the market. There are a few -- but those are for kids and a sheet of paper -- not for adults and a wood surface. That meant we had to make our own, which again called for "artistic talent" that we sorely lack.
Still -- as you can see in this photo -- we did acquire some plastic stenciling paper from a nearby crafts store -- and using a picture printed straight off the internet -- both Venus and I began to trace a rough outline. But that's just the first start. You need a razor blade and a steady hand to cut the stencil -- and that "steady hand" part is also quite difficult after five or six beers.
For those of you now thinking -- "why not just lay off the beer?" What are you? A Communist?
But, with stencils cut (three of them), we set about on the project to paint our "Hello Kitty" face. The face of our new hive. It actually looks a lot better from a distance -- or -- if you've had five or six beers.
It also turned out to be a slow and laborious project. Each part of the Hello Kitty face required the use of three cut-out stencils. We were required to tape the first stencil to the hive -- paint -- and then wait for it to dry. Four or five hours later -- we would remove that first stencil -- put the second one on -- and paint again. That meant another wait of four to five hours before you could remove the second stencil -- apply the third -- and paint again.
And, of course, stencils aren't perfect. Neither are we -- especially after five or six drinks. Sometimes paint runs. Sometimes it chips. Other times it just won't go where you want it to go! And then, there's the issue of paintbrushes, open cans of paint, four bratty and curious cats, stir sticks and lots and lots of paper towels for "boo-boo's" or "do overs."
To put it short and sweet, this is a project that took quite a bit of time. More time than either Venus and I thought. And this is just the first part of the project. The new colony of bees will arrive next weekend. And, although they won't immediately start producing honey, at some point, they will. And, if you want honey, that means the purchase of additional boxes called "honey supers."
That means more "Shy Little Piglet" pink -- more stencils -- more paintbrushes and more "boo-boo's."
It may be time to order another keg for the kegerator.
This hive will eventually go against a back fence (our lucky neighbors don't know about that quite yet), and hopefully the bees will do what I want them to do: pollinate trees, pollinate melon crops, heck, even help pollinate tomato plants.
This weekend's delivery should be interesting indeed. I wound up running from a solitary bee that had adopted this hive a few weeks early. It seems he didn't like me putting hive slats back into the hive, so I was strafed repeatedly. And it suddenly came to me: "if I'm running in terror from one bee, what's going to happen when I've got 1,000 or so buzzing around my head?"
Next weekend should be interesting indeed. Some please notify the nearest trauma center.