Mind Your Own Beeswax!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Beehive Display: California State Fair
This just happens to be one of my favorite lines that sprang from manning the "Bee Booth" at the California State Fair this past Monday. Though it was a Monday afternoon, and things were a tad slow on the fairgrounds, it didn't stop the kids from coming inside to check out a display case of live bees, ask questions and get a tasting of several different types of honey.

It's that special glass display case to your upper right that garnered most of the interest. It's a representation of a small bee city inside that glass case. The kids were surprised to learn that most hives were far larger -- containing anywhere from ten to 20 frames instead of the two frames pictured inside that case.

Beekeeping Booth: California State Fair
I like working with kids when it comes to bees. The kids are fascinated by the show and the honey -- and come armed with lots of questions. Thank goodness they have someone like me around -- as I would respond with the following answers:

Question: "Will those bees sting?"
Answer: "Why don't you put your hand in there and find out."

Question: "What happens if you open the top of that display case?"
Answer: "I don't know. Let's find out, shall we?"

Honey Samples at CA State Fair Booth
Question: "Where should I keep bees? The backyard?"
Answer: "No, the best place is your bedroom."

Question: "Are bees friendly?"
Answer: "Of course! They just told me that they want to go home with you!"

Question: "Why does the Queen have a dot of yellow paint on her?"
Answer: "That's not paint. It's her mood ring. Just wait and see what happens when it turns red."

Editor's Note: Somewhere, someone with the Sacramento Area Beekeeping Association (SABA) is firing off a nasty email to the President with the following report: "NEVER LET BILL BIRD ANYWHERE NEAR THE STATE FAIR BEEKEEPING BOOTH AGAIN!!!!"

Venus Dishes the Honey
I can't blame them...

All kidding aside, the booth experience proved to be far more enjoyable than I ever could have imagined. There are lots of activities, sights, sounds, foods, experiences, etc. that can grab a child's attention. But, even the attraction of chocolate covered bacon or a deep-fried twinkie couldn't overcome the fascination that resulted from a two-frame display of living, breathing, buzzing, bees.

As I stood there, talking with both parents and children alike, it struck me that I've come a long way in this now three-plus year experiment in beekeeping. It brought back long ago memories of running from a single, solitary bee that had taken a liking to the hive frames I'd kept stacked in the garage, waiting for my first colony of bees to arrive. How could I keep an entire colony if I was scared of one, single, solitary bee?

The Infamous Neon Pink Hello Kitty Hive
From those first, halting steps, somehow I'd emerged as an experienced beekeeper. When did this happen? Did this transformation take place after I captured and hived my first wild swarm? When I first procured honey from the backyard hive? Perhaps when I added the second hive to the Bird Back 40?

Overnight I've gone from someone asking the questions to the person providing the answers. When did this happen? I suppose it comes from the experience of working a hive on your own for the very first time. I suppose it comes from the experience of watching a mass of annoyed bees suddenly erupting from a hive towards my face after a long and not so comfortable trip in the car.

At some point in time the wife that is Venus and I went from cautious beginners to actual beekeepers. I'm just trying to figure out exactly when this happened. Perhaps it was the joy of watching Lenny, our 14 lb. Maine Coon Kitten, learn a very hard lesson that paws should never be stuck into the front of a hive opening?

Or perhaps it's the despair of realizing that you've lost yet another hive to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and wondering what you did wrong, if anything. There's nothing more distressing than discovering an empty hive that is packed with honey stores for the winter. Why did they up and leave all this behind? Perhaps it's the vow to never let it happen again?

Dave Mason Concert: CA State Fair
There's nothing more pleasing, in my opinion, than watching a hive at work in the backyard. You enjoy them while they are there. You miss them when they are gone. It's one reason why that once you become a beekeeper, you'll always be a beekeeper.

One hive is never enough. Two is twice as nice. Perhaps that idea of a third colony in the bedroom isn't such a bad idea after all.

1 comment:

Laura P said...

My colony abandoned a few weeks back and whie we were on vacation the hive ws infeted with wax moths. Bummer, and yecch. Beekeeping was way eaiser when I did not pay any attention at all.

P.S. we need a recent photo of Lenny. His fans (me) want to admire.