Saturday, October 4, 2008

Regarding lots of bees, a wasp, a spider, and a good man

Bob is ready big time to extract precious backyard honey. He has been working on this for many weeks whenever he has a spare hour. I have been of no help. Well actually I did help a little bit. I drove to pick up jars for bottling on Tuesday. It was about a five hour round trip on a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed the Wisconsin scenery. I also washed the jars, box by box in the dishwasher and carried them out to the garage to be ready for bottling. However, that is pretty much a pittance of effort compared to Bob.

Let me set the stage for this bee story. After many days of labor the honey is pulled. It is stacked to avoid getting wax moths. The dehumidifier is running and lights are kept on above the honey day and night—also to keep wax moths away. There is a thermometer on the stacks to keep the temperature perfect and it is checked regularly. The garage is empty of any bees. The equipment is sterilized. We have been keeping the cars outside to avoid contaminating the garage as much as possible. Bob did a lengthy search looking for a good material to use to filter the honey even going by himself to a fabric store to see what he could find. This is really just the beginning—there is tons more and each detail takes hours of work.

Thursday, four grandchildren had the day off from school while teachers attended a convention. Since Mama Patti was working, it was my privilege to have the children come here for the day. Mama Patti is always very prompt, I opened the garage door for the children at 8:30 and within two minutes the children were in my kitchen. Then I can’t really explain what happened. I know the importance of closing the garage door immediately but the children are fun and interesting and it is not hard to distract me for much lesser reasons. We played a card game and talked. At about 10:30 a.m. I remembered the garage door and jumped up (as fast as I could move with my trusty walker) to close it.

Now I have been loosely connected with beekeeping since I married Bob. I am familiar with more bee information and experience that most people would ever care to know. I am aware that each of our hives has around 40,000 to 60,000 honey bees. When I don my bee suit, and pretend to help Bob, I might see hundreds of bees but most are busy and involved and I am not that conscious of huge numbers of bees. I have even been with my hubby when he went to get some swarms. But all of the bees hang together mostly in a group and there is really nothing overwhelming about that situation. It just isn’t that big of deal. However, Thursday, when I opened the garage door, I saw all 80,000 to 120,000 bees in the garage at one time. It was a bee party! I had personally invited them to rob the supers full of honey by leaving the garage door open. They were buzzing all over as happy as could bee. Bob says it is called a feeding frenzy.

I closed the garage door and called hubby in a panic. However, he was thousands of miles away on business. It did feel better confessing over the phone rather than in person—face to face—I think.

So needless to say, I spent the next many hours doing my best to guide the bees, with a broom, home to their hives and to keep them from entering the garage again. It was challenging. I waited until the garage doors or windows were full of bees trying to get back to their hives to deposit honey and then I would open the garage door and shoo them out and close the door as quickly as possible to keep other bees from entering. It helped when the weather got a little cooler in the afternoon as well. These pictures nowhere near do justice to the amount of bees that were in our garage. I didn’t think to get my camera—initially.

During all of this time the children were great! They did not show a trace of bee fright. In fact, I offered them ways to avoid the garage altogether but all four walked through the garage a couple of times. Now, this I know, and I told the children, and they believed: “These bees are so full of honey and they have an utter gold mine at their disposal so they are not interested at all in us.” I brushed a couple of bees off of Jessica’s beautiful golden reddish hair, just in case they were confused but none of us were stung by a bee.

However, later in the afternoon, the children went to the park to play for a little and Steven was promptly stung by a mean, good-for-nothing wasp on the playground slide. After that, I hope it got caught in a spider web. Steven knows bees—has studied them up close and personal and so he knew that it was not a honey bee. We dug out the baking soda and water and ice packet immediately so I am hoping that it did not swell too much.

By the time Bob got home, the garage looked better and I was sure glad to see my man! I caused him lots of extra work but he never even acted irritated at me. In fact, he even chuckled a bit at my panic. After six Ibuprofen pills and a dinner with friends, I dropped into bed for maybe the best night’s sleep in eight weeks even though grieving the dashed hopes that our Chicago teams might play each other in the World Series.

Today, my hubby again spent hours in the garage and reassured me there was no harm done. He also spent some time going around the outside of our house ridding it of spider webs. Who knows, he might have destroyed one of Charlotte’s that said, “Some Man!”

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Bee Sting Cure said...
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