Friday, April 29, 2011

say I'm the only bee in your bonnet

At the behest of Magic Brian I am chronicling the bee-related events of our Commune of Weirdos. Perhaps this is a way in which I can provide value to the group? 'Cause I'm sick of feeling like a deadbeat.

Our beehives are finally completed! The model we're using is called a top bar hive. In the extremely minimal study I've done on beekeeping it seems that, as with cheesemaking, all the fancy, task-specific equipment and processes are vanities of affluence. You can make cheese on an open fire and strain it through an old sweater into a coffee can, and you can use any old scraps of stuff to make a beehive. As long as they have somewhere to make their comb and fill it with their barf, they're cool. In a top bar hive there are bars set across the top of the trough-looking thing that is the hive. The bees build their combs hanging down from the bars and fill them with babies and honey. Or something. You can't use a centrifuge to extract the honey, and you don't get as much honey from it, but top bar hives are easy and cheap to build (for some, namely, not me or John). Plus it's an ancient method, and everybody knows the ancient ways are best. Like leeching and stoning!I joke. I am very excited about this, because it's supposedly much better for the bees, and what with all the CCD and pesticide death, I think they could use a break, don't you?
We're putting the bees in tonight, or tomorrow morning if tonight is too cold. Evidently bees come by the pound--I'm getting three pounds--and it makes me laugh to think of someone getting one of those old-timey scoops and dipping it into a big bin of bees, and filling a feed sack or something. That would be funny.


All8 said...

I've always wanted to do bees but I'm leery of being stung and that in my ignorance, I would kill them all, and I don't know if I could live with that kind of guilt, especially while suffering all of those bee stings that I know would happen.

Also in my ignorance, how will you harvest the honey without destroying the hive? Hm, maybe I should put this on my list of research items.

Tori said...

There's a CSA bee program in Seattle where you host a hive and some guy takes care of it and gives you all the honey. I really want to sign up.

I love your image of old-timey scoops of bees, a lot. I kind of like picturing them getting weighed in a supermarket produce scale, too.

Barbie said...

I "installed" my new bee's on Saturday to. I'm interested to see how your top bar hive works through the summer. I wasn't a successful beekeeper last summer. ( I learned it would be a good idea to inform the neighbor about my bee's before she dumped gallons of herbicide on the flowers my bees were buzzing about!) I didn't harvest any honey out of my white box hives (I'm not sure what to call them) but I'm hoping for a better summer. Good luck to you.