When I told mom I was getting the bee hive, she said with some concern, “You know, beekeepers are all really kind of odd people.” I thought she was perhaps overstating the case, but since last weekend, I do think she might be right.
A week ago the woman who sold me the bees, named Lorraine, came to my property to have a look at my hive. She said, “Unfortunately, your bees didn’t make enough honey and will die over the winter.” I felt terrible about it, and decided to do some research.
I went on-line to the BC Beekeepers Association, and e mailed whoever had an e mail listed on the site. I said I had a bee hive, had been told the bees would starve, and wondered if there was anything to be done about it. Well! Beekeepers began phoning and e mailing me, just like an actual swarm.
As it turns out, the bees need something like 60 pounds of syrup, fed over the fall and winter, to help them survive. Who knew? One man I spoke to nearly wept. He said, “How many supers to you have?” I went, “Um, supers?” He almost went insane, saying how anyone can get a bee hive, and not know anything about beekeeping was beyond him.
Now I’m resigned. I have to get on my bee suit, learn how to put fuel into the smoker, go to the hive, open it, and generally commune with the bees. The particularly upset man had also asked if the bees were still carrying in pollen.
I asked how I would know that. He said, “You’d see it on their hind legs.” I said, “Oh, I guess I have to start watching them.” I believe it was at this point in the conversation where, even through the phone line, I could feel his adrenalin stores building dangerously.
My overall to-do list, posted on the fridge, says 1) do yoga 2) walk the dogs and 3) take pictures (ie learn how to use the new camera). Now I have to add 4) hang around with the bees.
Instead of naming the bees, and trying to be their friend, I’ve been trying to keep up with the tomato harvest. One year I’d like to actually keep the little tags that come with them, so that I can only buy the ones that I like. I have some that are absolutely huge, and very tasty as well.
Nicky announced proudly that he had an idea. “It’s genius, mom.” His idea was for me to make homemade salsa with all the tomatoes. He’s crazy for tortilla chips and salsa, so I thought it was a pretty good idea. I’ve made one batch, and I just love it, so will put the recipe in next months’ newsletter.
I wonder if becoming a proper beekeeper will place me into the realm of kooky. One of our neighbours in Osoyoos, my dad’s pal Johnny Rist, kept bees, and he was a Rosicrucianist. If these weekly blogs get nuttier and nuttier, then you’ll know that mom was indeed correct.