Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Good Sign of Things to Come

When I think of bees, I think of buzzing. When I think of buzzing, I think of being stung. When I think of being stung, I sometimes think back to that day when I intentionally stomped on a bee to experience a bee sting for the first time. But more times than not, I think back to that day when I unintentionally punted a football directly into a hornet's nest. I ran for what felt like three states, trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid getting stung. A couple (or maybe a couple gazillion) hornets got tangled in my hair and all I could hear was buzzing. Loud, angry buzzing. After that, all I could feel was extreme pain. My ear and the side of my face were swollen, red and hot by the time I ran the three blocks back to my house. From that day on, I have acted like I was on fire when I'd hear a buzz getting near me. Stop, drop, roll!

Fast forward to a couple years ago. While visiting the quiet community of Wewahitchka (home of the movie Ulee's Gold) I had my first encounter with loud buzzing bees, honey and the life and work of an apiary. Much to my surprise, I was able to endure the close presence and perpetual buzzing of the bees. I wasn't so sure I'd have the fortitude to withstand such a hostile environment, but I did. (Yeah! GO ME!) Part of it was vanity. The simple truth was I didn't want to look like what I know I could have looked like had I allowed myself to react in a fearful manner. Envision Seinfeld's Elaine dancing on ice. It just wouldn't have been pretty.

Since that visit with Don Smiley, I have held an interest in beekeeping. I am intrigued by honey harvesting and beeswax by-product as well as contributing to plant pollination. I think if there is such a thing as a "sign", I had a good one a couple days ago while watering the garden. As soon as the sprinkles started to fall, several honey bees gathered to drink. Some walked along the saturated soil and many flew to the lettuce where pools and puddles of water formed on the leaves. Their timing was remarkable since I'd decided to enroll in a hands-on Backyard Beekeeper Short Course offered by the University of Florida. A good sign, indeed.

When my recent Tupelo honey order arrived from Smiley's Apiary, I remembered an interview I heard with author Holley Bishop. She was on NPR a few months ago promoting her book, Robbing the Bees. I found her enthusiasm for beekeeping contagious. Like her, I plan on managing a couple of hives in the backyard for honey extraction. It is also my intention to use beeswax for candle making. The keeping of bees will be beneficial for me as I learn a few new crafts but it will be highly beneficial for the gardens and flowering plants nearby. Apparently, a couple of natural enemies of the honey bee are limiting the number of natural colonies in this part of the state. I will be proud to protect these hard workers and to promote pollination in my neighborhood. I really like the thought of being a part of a solution.

** click on the photo for a larger image


Blogger HermanTurnip said...

Looking at your links and reading your post was time well spent. It's nice to see someone get into a hobby that's absolutely facinating and a bit out of the norm! Yeah! Go you!

If you do manage to harvest a bit of honey, please send some my way! :)

February 20, 2006 9:11 PM  

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