Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Visit with the Keeper of Bees

My brother-in-law is an apiarist. He lives in the Big Apple, not a great place for bees, and so the hive lives with my father-in-law.

I helped him check on the hive today. It was fun and sort of cosmic, standing in a cloud of bees without fear of being stung.

Of course, we smoked 'em good. (In the photo, the smoker is the aluminum contraption with the yellow bellows hanging off the left of the hive.) The smoke makes their little bee brains think that the hive is on fire, and their little bee bodies react by gorging on honey for the long flight ahead. Except that, oh wait, nrrrrgh, now we're too full to fly much, and kinda drowsy. It's sort of like Bee Thanksgiving.


Ann Forstie said...

Neat! Though I noticed bare hands and feet in the photo -- the bees don't sting them?

Also, unless I'm mistaken, father-in-law lives in the northeast, so what happens to the bees in the winter?

(In "Pushing Daisies," Chuck's rooftop beehives all got cozies during the winter. God, I love that show.)

kStyle said...

They do not sting them. It helps to move slowly.

You are correct. In the winter, the bees stay in the hive and often flap their wings to keep warm. If you press your ear to a hive in winter, you'll hear the hum of a gazillion wings flapping. They eat the honey they made all summer.

The top, white layer on the hive is called the "supra". It contains frames for the bees to place extra honey for we humans to eat. The lower, lavender layers contain plenty of honey for the bees.

I'll have to catch that show sometimes.

Ann Forstie said...

Neat! Bees are so smart. And friendly! Any creature that makes honey is A-OK by me.