Monday, May 22, 2006

My little friends

I spent last Saturday afternoon working with wood and wax. I did some building and assembly, there was wood shavings and nails flying. Thankfully no bandaids were required. When I had everything finished I loaded up my work and headed out to visit our bee hives.

I have no explanation, but somehow we have bees that survived this year. We lost our last two hives almost 2 years ago. Last year we decided to take the year off from bee keeping. For some unknown reason two swarms decided our empty hives would make a good home. We figured they would die off over the winter like all the others, but to our surprise they actually lived. I had been checking on them throughout the winter, on my rabbit hunting trips, and in the early spring, during our early tree digging season. One warm mid April Saturday Natasha and I took a trip out to the hives and opened them up, cleaned them out, tried to spot the queen(no such luck), and tucked them all back in. We were very excited at their condition when we last left. They had a good supply of honey, there were plenty of workers working, even though we couldn't find the queen it was obvious she was busy laying eggs, and with the spring blooms hitting full force they were beginning to bring in pollen and nectar.

So, I arrived with my boxes full of brand new frames filled with their wax foundations. I came alone...I had infected my wife with my cold/flu thing(along with 5 and counting employees) but that's another story. Now before I go further I must explain I have not always been a fan of the bee. I had suffered, what I believe is an above average amount of stings from the little fellers in my younger years. I probably ranked in the 90th percentile. Of course I also inflected an above average amount of pain into the lives of the bees I encountered also. A swat with a rolled up paper, a stone thrown through a paper nest...ok it was never just one stone, bottle rockets, a high pressured stream of water, plenty of bee killing spray, and yes I've used fire. I'd definitely say I ranked in the 90th percentile of most wanted by the bees. But I've changed my ways, it started with my wife's fascination with insects. Her studies at MSU involved entomology...we still have her "bug collection" and no I am not bitter that we, I mean I have moved it to three houses. But, we have to get back to the story...I unloaded my two boxes and surveyed the scene. There was a bit of a breeze and there was a lot of bee flying going on. I figured, with the wind, the smoker would be of little use so I put on my long sleeve t-shirt, a pair of gloves, and a veil. In my hurry to get out to the hives I had left the hive tool, used for prying apart the lid, frames, and supers(boxes). Thankfully I had a screwdriver that was able to do the job. I opened the top on the first hive and carefully pried off the inner does not want to upset a couple thousand bees while only wearing a longsleeve t-shirt...on the top of the inner cover I found a nest of ants. Not a place I would pick for a home if I were an ant, but they seem to think it was a good spot. I took the cover over to my truck where I scraped them off it...some went to ant heaven, others were smarter and hit the ground running. I went back to the hive and began preparing it for the new frames I had brought, this involved a bit of scraping and usually gets the bees flying around to see what is going was no different. Did I mention I was just wearing a long sleeve t-shirt...well I began feeling this poking feeling on my neck, where the veil met my t-shirt, and where the back of my neck was not covered. I stepped away from the hives and took off my glove. I began feeling for what I thought was an angry bee trying to inflect some bee pain into me. The first swipe I felt nothing, second swipe still nothing, I began thinking it was just my imagination, on the third swipe I found what it was it was one of those ants. He must have not appreciated the hospitality I showed them. I returned to the hives and finished what I came to do. When I was done I took off my gloves and veil and just sat down next to the hives.

There is something amazing about bees that just draws me towards them. I could sit there for hours just watching them come and go. Coming with their little leg pouches full of pollen and mouths full of sweet nectar. They do their little dance, hand over the pollen or nectar to another worker that stores it in the hive. They are amazing little creatures so delicate and simple, yet so complex and detailed. I will take you on another rabbit trail here...I like the song, "Our God is an awesome God", when ever I hear that song I think of things like the bees. At first glance they are annoying, simple little things that you only notice because they can be annoying. But God somehow dreamed them up...these little creatures that are so simple yet so complex with their antennas, pollen sacks, wings, and legs. They are attracted to flowers where they get the nectar and collect the pollen and at the same time spread the pollen around from stamen to stigma causing pollination. From that flowers turn into fruit that contain seeds that are the future...freaking amazing, it blows my mind...all I can say is, what an awesome God.


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