Monday, December 27, 2010

Buzzzzz (Part 1)

The back story…..

Many years ago we were driving from Ft. Myers to Orlando and stopped in the small town of La Belle, Florida. My mother had told us that was the place to buy really good Florida honey. We pulled over at a small roadside market, not impressive from the outside, but the inside was packed with honey jars – orange blossom, eucalyptus, wildflower, palmetto, and more that I don’t remember.

After reading a few labels and tasting several varieties, I was still confused about how they knew what kind of honey it was. So I asked the guy behind the counter how they got the bees matched up with the type of nectar they were collecting. He looked at me for a long time and finally managed a smile of sympathy reserved only for the very ignorant, and then he told me, “It depends on where the hives are located. Put the hives near an orange grove and you get orange blossom honey – go figure.”

My bee knowledge hasn’t improved much over the years, but I do know they make honey for my tea, they sting if you bother them, they are a critical part of the agriculture process, and they are being seriously threatened by Colony Collapse Disorder which no one understands yet. Even though I don’t know much about bees, I like to watch them working the flowers around the house during the summer months.

Earlier this year, with only a little prodding, I joined my wife for a day-long “bee” program sponsored by the local OSU Extension Office. The program involved beekeepers and apiary experts talking about the “how-to’s,” the challenges and the rewards of having a beehive in the backyard. I really enjoyed the seminar and walked away with a much greater appreciation for that dollop of honey in my evening tea.

Today’s story….

A few days ago, the UPS guy deposited 5 good-sized boxes in our driveway. After getting them wrestled into the garage, I asked the boss what she ordered.

She told me it was my Christmas/birthday present. “A beekeeping starter set. Everything you need, including one of those cute white beekeeper suits with the white pith helmet. Some assembly required and then all you need are the bees – I’ll let you figure that part out.”

I’m wondering if this was on my Christmas list or my bucket list or some other list that I had forgotten. “How did you decide this is what I needed?”

“Last summer you said it might be fun to have a beehive in the backyard.”

I’m thinking, “That’s it? One casual passing remark and now I’m a beekeeper? What if I had said Llamas look interesting?” What I actually said aloud was, “Thank-you for a very thoughtful gift. I can hardly wait until summer gets here.”

I searched through the five boxes in the beekeeper’s starter set and found a 1258 page instruction manual….to bee continued.


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