Beekeeping: What they Don’t Teach Us


I’ve mentioned my wife and I are getting into apiary.  Our second class is tonight, but two things I’ve already learned:

  1. In spite of the name, apiary is the art of keeping bees not apes making it a slightly less awesome hobby than I expected.
  2. I will not be allowed to put on a bear suit and dump bees on Nicolas Cage’s head.  Puffing the smoker and yelling “How’d it get burned?!” may or may not be okay.

Then there’s the lessons they don’t teach you in class (oddly, the whole “Don’t recreate The Wicker Man” thing was part of the initial meet-and-greet).  I have a coworker who comes from a family of beekeepers and ended up with a bit of good advice that I don’t think will come up in class.

“When the bees arrive they’ll have been in that box for a while.  Just think about that.”

“So they’ll be pissed off.”

“Well, they’ll be swarming, so they won’t sting you.  But it will feel like it’s raining.”

“Raining?”  I think a second.  “Oh.  Raining.  So…don’t hold the box over my head.”

“No, see, they’ll all fly straight up and around you.  I swear the first time I thought it was raining.  You don’t think that insects defecate, but they do.”

So there we go.  Today’s lesson in practical beekeeping.  Bees hold it in during transit and thank their new stewards for releasing them from captivity by anointing them with every bit of bee excrement that built up in their tiny bodies.  Oddly, my wife tried to sell me on bees over apes by pointing out that apes tend to fling their poo.  Suddenly bees have lost their edge in the less-projectile-scatology department.  Just got to tell myself, bees make honey, honey makes mead, mead makes writer happy.

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