Sunday, May 2, 2010
Over the years, kindly bee-keeping friends have lent us hives for the apple orchard during pollen season. Honey bees are more reluctant than bumblebees to come out in cool weather, so conditions have to be right for them. My friend Dave,an experienced bee keeper, has been supplying us latterly with two hives, which suffices. We get the pollination and he takes the honey. Our bloom is a little early this year. We usually figure May 5th for maximum bloom of the Gravensteins. They, of course, need a friend of a different variety for pollination. I am always in awe of the way experts such as Dave handle their job with such ease. My only skill with bees is avoiding getting stung. I have had to call Dave for swarms hanging on the apple tree like a football, seething and shimmering, a bee colony in the rafters of the crawl space of the house, and a bee colony in a hollow of an old Transparent where we were trying to insert a drain. Each time, he responded with skill and dispatch. The only time I was in danger of getting stung was in weeding the strawberry patch when the bloom was good. The bees do not take kindly to pressure between the thumb and forefinger when they are feeding. We had a young family of friends visit us for tea and cookies last summer. The young mother cautioned her children to stay away from the hives. We have a swing and a climbing tree in the orchard, away from the hives. The little boy however, couldn't overcome his curiosity about the bees and got too close, and then, gave the hive a little kick since there wasn't enough action that he could see. At six or seven you can't outrun bees.Of course he ran right by his sister who was obediently on the swing. Her mother came barreling into the orchard. It was chaos! The bees were in their clothes and hair . The children were stripped and we picked out bees from the hair and clothing. The kitchen floor was littered with dead bees. The pianist ran upstairs to get the bee sting kit with the sting stick. The children were fine and so was their mother. After the initial shock there was relief and even a sense of having come through an event. The children were remarkable and suddenly became excitedly good humored . I couldn't get over how resilient they were. It bodes well for their future. Their mother experienced the "Whew Factor". Our forgettable afternoon tea transformed to an unforgettable afternoon. There was no reaction to the stings, thank goodness. I asked Dave to remove the hives! The pianist and I are not going through this again! I'll rely on the wild bees.