Darwin's Allergy Test- Keeping Bees at the HAH
First off, please excuse me for neglecting you, my beloved reader! As you can imagine, the onset of spring means lots of plowing, planting and successes. That may be true for others that have a hand in agriculture. For the Half-assed Homesteader, Spring simply means days of rain, sticky, gross mud, and most importantly, it means getting the tractor stuck every day (cause he is a moron of epic proportions). Seriously though, it has been as frustrating as possible. My big-boy office job is contingent on like three things: internet, semi-accurate airplane schedules, and a moderately functional brain. Mother nature doesn't get a say. Guess what!? That's not true for farming!!!
Despite the rain, there has been progress. Production on the homestead has started-----ish. And while I could tell you the boring stories of small gains, I will stick to my favorite accomplishment so far. I have managed to keep bees in the hive for two weeks! It took two tries to get a queen to stay alive, but I blame the apiary dude. He was sketchy. While it was annoying to have to hunt down a second queen, I was grateful to find a local beekeeping resource that I will use and abuse in the future.
For most of my planning, the bees were sort of the year 1 afterthought. I viewed it as an add-on to everything else. The orchard, the garden, getting the property to be functional, and what the hell, lets throw a beehive in for fun. Now that I have them, I think they are my favorite part of the gig.
A colony of bees is a complex and fun community of misunderstood bugs. So far (fingers crossed) mine have been very friendly, and hard working. Watching them fly out, collect pollen, come back and cluster around the frames of my Langstroth hive has been absolutely memorizing. Beyond that, watching the more nuanced behaviors like dragging out the dead carcasses of fallen brothers and sisters, building cells and protecting the entrance to the hive is just freakin' cool. I can imagine going out there during the summer and sitting under the tree and just watching them do their job.
Sure, this all seems like clover and honeysuckle now, but I wonder how I'll feel after I get stung the first time. Or after wax moths screw it up...or when the little buggers just decide they hate me and then run away. Either way, the bees have been the biggest highlight of my spring. Maybe I can get all 30,483 of them to do an anti-rain dance, and we can make the rest of the place better!