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posted June 11, 2015 @10:21a
“I don’t have it. I don’t have it.”
You’ve had the experience: you and another person are moving something heavy, and your helper starts to move before you’ve gotten a good grasp.
That’s what I’m calmly saying as I am attempting to help a bee expert move one of our hives.
In case you haven’t read (or heard in one of my long-winded conversations over the phone), we own a u-pick blueberry farm. And on that farm, we have some bees.
I’ve probably done that joke before, but I still like it.
We lost our first three hives last year, so we tried again. They’ve done so well this year that – at least in my novice view – one of the hives actually split and had a “swarm”; a swarm is when there’s a mass exodus of bees from the hive. In this case, the hive is still full of bees, so this is a brand new colony.
So there they are, huddled in a giant bee ball, attached to the bottom of the hive. This is called a “bee beard”, and looks much like this…
… except that instead of it being on a dude’s head, it’s hanging from the bottom of one of our hives.
Serendipitously, there are a couple of bee experts picking blueberries, and they volunteer to help us.
I don’t use the term “expert” lightly: they lived on a bee sanctuary for a period of time, so they’ve had extensive experience.
So he brings a “box” in which to put the bees, and places it on the ground beside the hive and its new bee beard. Wearing no gear whatsoever, I watch him lie on the ground, and then start scooping bees from the beard with his raw, bare hand, like he’s scooping up giant wads of ice cream. With a fling of his hand, each bee scoop is placed in the new box on the ground.
He scoops for a couple hours, and we watch, fascinated.
Just after nearly all of the bees have been moved, a storm rolls in and freaks them all out. Scores of thousands of bees swirl up into the sky like a giant bee tornado. It was an amazing sight.
But never fear: the bee experts, of course, brought a bee drum with them.
Yes, a drum that makes drummy noises.
He begins to beat the bee drum… BOOM, boom, boom, boom… BOOM, boom, boom, boom… BOOM, boom, boom, boom…
The drumming works. The bees calm and return to their original beard under our hive, undoing the two hours of scooping.
The scooper was frustrated; but from his expression, I surmise that one of our new bee friends has an idea, and he begins to unveil the plan to me.
“Can you help me pick up this hive?”
Imagine a puzzled-looking guy in plain white tee shirt, oversized shorts (it was my last pair, and they were falling off), and a head full of long, blonde, surfer-dude hair. That’s me.
I’m not a surfer, by the way. I’m terrified of sharks and waves and seaweed and rocks and sand and water.
So I think, “He’s the expert. If he thinks I can help him, then I must be capable.”
I couldn’t have been more wronger.
I’ve learned that honeybees are surprisingly docile.
Until you pick up their bee house and smash it like the Incredible Hulk.
Then they attack.
I’m holding one side of the hive, saying, “I don’t have it. I don’t have it.” The hive slips out of my grip and crashes on the ground. At least I’m told it crashes on the ground.
I don’t see what happens to it, because I was now wearing my very own bee beard.
As I began to run for my life, I could hear the calm bee dude saying, in a near whisper, “Just calmly walk away.”
I could hear bees stuck in my hair. I could feel stings on my lip, my hands, my knees, my legs… everywhere. I suddenly realize my baggy shorts have the potential of trapping thousands of bees, so…
Yes, I do exactly what you’d expect.
I strip off my clothes, yelling, smacking myself, running through the farm like some kind of mad man.
I keep my boxers on in the hopes that I could save one last shred of dignity.
But that doesn’t take.
Pain. Terror. Humilation. Partial nudity.
I had wrongly assumed farming would be rated PG.
What a long, strange trip it's been.
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