Saturday, January 06, 2007

Beekeeping 101? Anyone? Anyone?

As noted earlier, my big activities as a Peace Corps Volunteer so far have centered on beekeeping and beekeepers. Before coming to Peru neither Cynthia nor I had really any experience with bees besides running away from them. When we were members of the late and lamented Echo Park Community Garden we shared growing space and time with Kirk, a fine beekeeper, who kept his hives in the garden and captured a swarm that turned up near our house one day. He had a lovely little saying of beekeeper’s knowledge that went something like “A swarm in May is worth a bot in hay, but a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon.” If Kirk or anyone else out there can help me with the wording and significance of this saying, please write!

The first few times putting on the veil and bee suit and walking in amongst bees that we were actively annoying were pretty nerve wracking. A drop of my own sweat fell in my eye, and for a few terrifying seconds I thought that a bee had gotten inside my veil and had stung my eye. My more experienced compatriots ran to my side and blew smoke in my face. This is the right thing to do, as it takes away any aggressive urge the bee has, but does nothing for clear vision. I have gotten more used to it now, and the fascination of watching the bees at work doing their beelike things is taking over. And there is a definite rush to standing in a cloud of very pissed off bees, some of whom are willing to sacrifice their own lives to sting you, and feel almost entirely safe. Sometimes you can watch them sting your gloves, and slowly pull away from you, leaving a piece of themselves, a still pulsing sack of poison, stuck in the leather, which the bee wishes was your skin. Sometimes we have had to pull out combs with young bees developing in their cells, and you can see the little grub stage of their development, and newly hatching bees eating the wax cap over their cells, with perfect new bee faces. I may have to take this up when I return to the U.S. The rewards are delicious! A piece of fresh comb, cut from the hive, with a mix of honey and pollen dripping off the wax may be the best all natural candy bar ever!

3 Comments:

Blogger Eminet said...

happy new year dan & cyndi! we miss you so much and send you ALL all all of our love & best wishes in this Nuevo Ano. Please check out www.mayaray.smugmug.com if possible to see a FEW pics from last year with photos updating every month/year - I am still trying to get my friend Ruben's email who lives in Peru so you can expand your South American contact list of good people! Your photos & blog bring me so much warmth - we miss you so much! we'll be in touch!!! love you, Em & Paul

11:42 PM  
Blogger S. said...

I love the bee keeping stories. Some how I am not surprised that dan has found this new profession! xxoo, Leila

11:17 PM  
Blogger Cynthia & Dan said...

Hi Em & Leila-
Thanks for leaving comments. It makes me feel good to know that people are reading and enjoying our blog. Yay! People haven`t forgotten us!

Love you guys!
cyn

9:06 AM  

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