I’ll never turn down help on the farm but yesterday I reserved the day all for myself. Quietly moving about the place, checking out what needed to be done, I knocked off a few easy projects and made a long to-do list. It was the perfect day to take a quick dip into the bee hives.
These days the bee yard has five hives. Natalie found and captured a swarm earlier this spring but for whatever reason it decided to leave a second time. The five hives that remain made it through the winter and are strong and healthy.
Although I’m proud of my good fortune as a beekeeper, truthfully, I’m rather neglectful. It’s a benign neglect. Or, as I like to rationalize, I raise sustainable, self-sufficient colonies that require very little intervention to stay alive.
This past year I neither took honey or fed them over the winter. Still they do their job of pollinating, putting up that sweet golden nectar and generally minding their own business.
There’s no master strategy here. I’d love to have time to do regular inspections. To manage them for a full honey crop. To play around with growing queens and splitting booming hives.
But like accountants, the honeybees and I both have our “busy times” of the year. Spring is our busy time.
While I’m running frantically trying to stay on the seeding, planting, weeding and harvesting schedule, they are hurriedly gathering pollen and nectar and preparing for the year ahead. If my spring ever slows I plan to spend a little more time with the girls.
So it was a bonus yesterday, having a day alone on the farm, and quietly slipping into the bee yard. A couple of the hives were near honey-bound so I gently stole a few of boxes of honey. I replaced them with boxes of empty frames which the bees will quickly fill.
It’s gratifying knowing that, even though it is small, there will be a harvest this year. There will be a day in late summer when a few of us will gather in the kitchen around frames of capped honey with a hot knife and spatulas. There will be a lot of laughter and amazement. In no time we’ll be one big sticky mess.
That day will be as miraculous as the first time I spun out a honey harvest. We’ll talk about the hard work of countless honeybees to make it all possible. Tales of the queen and drones and relentless worker bees will be told and retold.
And that day will mark another year of keeping bees, or perhaps more accurately, being kept by them.
As always, thanks for stopping by!
PS – Hot Water came back into my life today ~ how sweet it is!!